In February I had the opportunity to hear two great performances in the Hattiesburg, MS area.
The first one, was down the road in Laurel, Mississippi (hometown of the amazing Leontyne Price) at the First-Trinity Presbyterian Church. The concert consisted of the Durufle Requiem and the Gloria by Francis Poulenc. It had been ages since I had listened to the Requiem. I came to the piece early in my undergrad years and had listened to it many times, but I had not heard it in years. My musical ears and tastes have changed since I first heard the work. The performance was wonderful other than a couple late entrances. My wife loved the piece, I still liked it but not with the same fervor I did years ago.
Until I attended this performance I do not recall ever listening to the Gloria by Poulenc. I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it. The performance was excellent. Maryann Kyle was the soprano soloist and she did an amazing job! It was great to hear a local church choir perform these wonderful 20th century works. Not only was First Trinity Presbyterian a beautiful setting with wonderful acoustics for this concert, it was also one of the best concerts I have attended in a while.
The other performance I attended in February was the Integrales New Music Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi. This year, the festival celebrated the Elliott Carter Centenary. There were lectures given by S21 blogger Alan Theisen, Jonathan Bernard, and David Shiff. The concert featured performances by students, faculty and the incomparable Ann Schein.
The concert included a performance of Birthday Flourish. I had never heard the piece, and I am not aware of a recording. It was an exciting performance by USM students. The highlight of the concert came with the Piano Sonata performed by Ann Schein. I have always been a fan of the Piano Sonata, since the first time I listened to the work. I swear I have listened to the piece a thousand times. (Both the Charles Rosen performance and Paul Jacobs.) I was moved to tears. The Piano Sonata is a beast. It always surprises me when I hear it. (Also this was the first live performance of this work I had attended.) There is always something new to find and hear in the piece. (I also highly recommend Ms. Shcein’s recording of Carter and Copland.)
I had a couple of friends in attendance that knew very little of Carter’s music and were kind of weary to listen to his works. After this concert they were extremely eager to hear more. They were even asking people for their favorite Carter recordings.