Sunday, April 24, 2011

Holy Saturday in Greenwich...

...started out windy and rainy. A tag sale on Stanwich Road was disappointing, especially for those whose cars were ticketed by a zealous policeman. Your scribe managed to avoid that fate by obtaining permission in advance for his parking spot, and was informed it was on "private property" and thus safe to use.

The local Apple store has finally reopened after a cleaning crew set off the sprinkler system and flooded the place. What a waste of iMacs, iPods, MacBooks, and iPads! Not to mention several days of lost sales. No word on who will pick up the tab for this debacle.

Then it was off to Stanwich Church for another in their fabulous concert series conducted and accompanied by Randy Atcheson. The program opened with Gigout's Toccata on the organ, which rattled the rafters and got everyone in the mood for the musical feast to follow. During Pastor Chuck Davis's invocation Randy moved downstairs to the brand-new Yamaha concert grand piano recently given to the church. He opened the lid to its fullest, and proceeded to play Debussy's suite Pour le Piano by heart, full of iridescent arpeggios and brilliant glissandos. Stanwich Church is not a small building, but the overwhelming power of this gorgeous instrument seemed to fill the space twice over. One had the impression of watching Randy play at Carnegie Hall, except that the sightlines were much better.

To set the stage for the main course the choir performed Fauré's Cantique de Jean Racine and Gounod's "O Divine Redeemer", with Randy both directing and accompanying from the now only partially-open piano. The entrée was Fauré's Requiem, an appropriate choice for Holy Saturday. A six-piece chamber orchestra, including harp, balanced the piano accompaniment, and from time to time Randy would rise from the bench to allow the orchestra to take center stage. The choir did its usual commendable job of nuancing the score, from clear pianissimos to resounding fortissimos. For dessert, Randy played us Léon Boëllmann's famous Toccata from his Suite Gothique, once again rattling the rafters as people made their way to "Emmaus Hall"--an appropriate Holy Saturday venue indeed--for the post-concert reception.

As always, we here in Greenwich have much to be grateful for, especially in the musical world. Probably no other town our size has so many accomplished professional musicians, not to mention so many talented singers. Thank you, Randy, and thank you, the choir and chamber orchestra of Stanwich Church, for this gorgeous music that reminds us how truly blessed we are.


Post a Comment

<< Home