Texas Choral Consort offers an oratorio for all seasons

~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA mid-day host

Texas Choral Consort’s presentation of Die Jahreszeiten — “The Seasons” — (February 26th & 27th)

If you missed the opportunity to hear Franz Joseph Haydn’s “The Seasons” this past weekend, I’m sorry, really sorry. This masterwork is rarely performed in this part of the world. Although it was written three years after his blockbuster, “The Creation,” it never caught on like its predecessor.

photo credit: Robert Kelly

Much of the neglect rests with what was once an unwieldy English libretto (translated from a German translation/adaptation of an English poem by James Thomson titled, “The Seasons”). Over the centuries, some much-needed changes have improved the original libretto, and for this performance, Artistic Director, Brent Baldwin, deftly selected some of the best texts of the English versions.

photo credit: Robert Kelly

Having never heard this piece live, I wasn’t sure just how the music would “take flight.” Brent Baldwin led his chorus (the un-auditioned chorus, I might add!) to deliver a very strong and joyous performance. The orchestra was superb tackling this challenging piece and the soloists (soprano, Kirsten Watson as Jenny, baritone, Chaz Nailor as Simon and tenor, Jos Milton as Lucas), sang their arias/ensemble pieces with elegant facility and managed some tricky recitatives with great aplomb.

The other star of course, was Haydn. He was in his element here, with dazzling orchestration and some magnificent tone painting (was that a quail I just heard?). The summer sunrise and the shuddering storm scenes were standouts. As well, he provided inside jokes, as only Haydn could do. With the achingly beautiful opening of “Winter,” it was hard not to think of one W.A. Mozart. Also written into the music were moments of clever interplay between the soloists and chorus, and between the singers and the orchestra.

Cheers to the good folks at Texas Choral Consort for these performances, and to Brent Baldwin in particular for programming and delivering this piece.

Learn more about Texas Choral Consort performances and auditions at www.txconsort.org.

~posted by Dianne Donovan, mid-day host, and producer of Classical Austin

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