Conductor Ron Spigelman led the large, combined forces of the BPO, the Canisius College Chorale and the Choir of Blessed Sacrament Church in an inspired performance of the Gloria in D, RV 589, Vivaldi's most often performed sacred work.
The combined choir of more than 120 singers, well-prepared by music director Frank Scinta, sang with precise clarity, right from their initial declamatory entrance in the "Gloria in Excelsis." Their treatment of the subtle modulations in the unexpectedly somber minor key "Et in Terra Pax" was especially effective.
The voices of soprano Cristen Gregory and mezzo Melissa Thorburn were well-paired in the joyous "Laudamus te," with Spigelman serving up the just the right blend of orchestral support. BPO principal oboist Pierre Roy's haunting, obbligato playing, beautifully matched the lilting soprano of Gregory in the pastoral "Domine Deus." Principal bassist Paul Bresciani, Associate Principal cellist Feng Hew, along with a harpsichordist, provided strong support when indicated.
Thorburn's well-rounded voice was warmly expressive in her duet with the orchestra in the "Agnus Dei," while Spigelman's orchestral support never flagged, expertly contrasting dynamic levels right through the exciting double fugue finale of the "Sancto Spiritu."
The prolific Persis Vehar, Composer-in-Residence at Canisius College, served as soloist in her own work "In Celebration," for string orchestra and piano. "Joy," the first movement, found the piano generally commenting on, or augmenting, the swelling strings. The middle "Romance" was the most substantial movement, making good use of low pizzicato effects in its chamber music-like treatment of some lovely themes. "Exultation" featured cascading piano outbursts against held chords, with an eerie section for high violins. The whole work was pleasant enough, but lacked a strong, convincing viewpoint.
Spigelman achieved the fiery quality that Mozart called for in the opening Allegro of his Symphony No. 35, the "Haffner." While his even-handed approach to the Andante worked well, the very abbreviated length of the movement compromised the overall structure of the symphony. The up-tempo Menuetto featured a nicely contrasting trio section, while the breakneck speed of the Finale didn't affect the clarity of this remarkably cohesive performance.
Beethoven's "Lenore Overture No. 3" was hampered by an initial, overly relaxed tempo, and generally unfocussed playing. BPO principal trumpet player Alex Jokipii was dramatically effective in his two off stage clarion calls, but even he couldn't help pull this usually sure-fire piece together.
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Wednesday evening, Montante Cultural Center, Canisius College.