Let us remember what a great summer season we had in Cincinnati this year, and praise where praise is due before we dive headlong into 2019-2020’s musical lineup.
SONG: May 26 – Franz Schubert’s Die Winterreise
In one of the Art of the Piano events, baritone Simon Barrad measured up on every count in Schubert’s musical depiction of a human being’s journey from the unhappiness of living to the quietude of the grave. Awadagin Pratt proved to be the singer’s perfect partner at the piano, summoning a multitude of dynamics and colors from his instrument. . Barrad’s and Pratt’s Winterreise was a musical map of the human soul that for the length of an unforgettable evening we took in as awed companions of two superlative artists.
CHORAL: May 28 – Craig Hella Johnson’s Conspirare – Considering Matthew Shepard
On a bare stage, one could discern the silhouettes of Conspirare’s vocalists in low light, Craig Hella Johnson seated at the piano, and next to him a small ensemble of musicians near a rustic fence that one might encounter in the vastness of the Wyoming plains – a symbol for the crucifixion of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, who on October 6, 1998 was driven to a desolate spot in the outskirts of Laramie, beaten, tortured, and left to die. Johnson’s extraordinarily conceived Considering Matthew Shepard took the stage of Cincinnati’s Corbett Auditorium and for its two-hour duration held its audience enthralled.
OPERA: July 24 – CINCINNATI OPERA – Blind Injustice
A variety of characters are subjected to the sorrowful vagaries of the American legal system and wrongfully convicted. Every one of the six convicted persons tells — through David Cote’s potent libretto and Scott Davenport Richards’ emotionally charged score — their stories of incarceration, exoneration, and redemption. In Blind Injustice, a memorable world premiere brilliantly staged by Robin Guarino and fiercely conducted, sung, and played with John Morris Russell at the helm, the focus remained on the visceral rather than on the legal details, which made for a riveting experience that Cincinnati will remember for a long time.
During the dog days of August, the fully blossomed Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra once more brought to Cincinnati’s music lovers a plentiful supply of world class soloists, up and coming young artists, and the playing of a cohesive, disciplined, and fluent ensemble made up of some of the best musicians in these parts, led by the never predictable, ever reliable Eckart Preu in off-the-beaten path programs that surprised and stimulated both brain and heart. The CCO has carved a unique place in the Queen City’s musical landscape.
Rafael de Acha http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com