The Mendelssohn Club is celebrating its 99th season this year and on Friday night, the club gave its annual spring concert at The Egg.
The concert paid homage to Broadway with segments given to the work of Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.
As the club has done in past concerts, it shared the stage with a guest artist.
On Friday, it was Saratoga Springs singer Sarah Pedinotti and her band. Pedinotti’s releases have been listed on Billboard Magazine’s Top Ten Critics Choice three years in a row, according to her bio.
The club chose some of the most evocative and sensual tunes from each composer.
With the dependable Michael Clement at the piano, conductor Victor Klimash gave a wave of his hand to the almost 70 men, who stood up and began the program with a beguiling “Begin the Beguine.” Their sound was mellow and blended.
The most gorgeous reading of the evening, however, was Porter’s “So in Love” from “Kiss Me, Kate.”
Something about the men’s tone and the degree of emotion they invested in the very beautiful lyrics were thrilling.
They followed this up with an energetic “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and a vibrant “Night and Day.”
Klimash and Clement left the stage, but the chorus remained to watch Pedinotti and her band of pianist Dave Payette, guitarist Chris Kyle, bassist Tony Markellis and drummer Chris Carey perform three of her tunes.
Pedinotti has a light flexible voice and she occasionally played harmonica or guitar. Her band gave her a light but solid backup.
“Coping Mechanism #1” had Dylan-ish lyrics and speed; “Julio” was a ballad and “Rain-Colored Highway” was a funky rock number.
It wasn’t always clear what her songs’ centers were, but the harmonies and darker vibe of the latter song projected some descriptive elements.
Not as a comparison, but when the chorus resumed with Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” the song’s sentiment and meaning were easily grasped.
That clarity and the song’s beautiful melody is why, even after almost 90 years, it is still a favorite. The large crowd was very appreciative.
Not everything went swimmingly. Fast lyrics and complicated part singing, such as in “Bess, You is My Woman Now,” were a little rough. Still, they were infrequent.
Albany’s Tulip Queen and her court also dropped by and winners of the club’s 2008 Vocal Awards were announced.