Conductor David Griggs-Janower assembled his huge forces Saturday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall to give an exceptional final concert of the Albany Pro Musica’s 27th season.
As part of the group’s educational outreach, it adopted the 18-voice Guilderland High School Chamber Choir this season, which joined the Albany Pro Musica in the first half of the program.
They began with Faure’s sublimely lyrical “Cantique de Jean Racine” (1865). The music was as delicate as pastels, and Griggs-Janower kept the large chorus in a subdued mode just on the edge of the flowing melodies.
Balances among the 120-voice-plus chorus and the 45-piece orchestra were in keeping with the dynamic levels. It was all very peaceful and heavenly. The capacity crowd gave a pleased sigh at the end.
The crowd was equally pleased with Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, with the always eloquent bass-baritone Keith Kibler intoning the lines of 17th century poet George Herbert in perfect diction. His part was often quite high, but nothing interfered with Kibler’s ability to imbue each phrase with a personal inflection.
The music was romantic, sometimes pastoral in mood and transparent. The orchestra sounded excellent. The chorus part was more a color until the final song, which it had to itself and sang in a celebratory volume.
The big work of the evening was Brahms’ “A German Requiem” (1868). Written in six sections with text taken from 16 chapters of 10 books of the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha, the music is very romantic with much inspired lyricism and in major tonalities, so the mood was always an uplifting one.
The huge chorus sang initially in hushed tones that grew slightly to velvety levels. It sounded robust and thrilling at full volume, although the high notes sounded strained. German diction was not clear in many sections. Kibler provided stalwart solos in two sections, and lyric soprano Alison Trainer did nicely in her one section.
Griggs-Janower impressed with how solidly he maintained control and how well he had rehearsed everyone. It was a lot of work.