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19.12.09

Waverly Consort's "The Christmas Story"

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Read my review (published late yesterday) on the Washington Post Web site:

Charles T. Downey, Waverly Consort's Christmas: festive but threadbare
Washington Post, December 18, 2009

available at Amazon
Waverly Consort, The Christmas Story


Despite all appearances to the contrary, this CD is not identical to the program of the Christmas Story concert.
The Waverly Consort brought its celebrated holiday concert back to the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on Wednesday night. At its creation in 1980, “The Christmas Story” was an ingenious bit of programming, fusing a selection of medieval monophony and polyphony into a coherent narrative. It is best heard in the resonant, medieval art-filled acoustic of the Cloisters museum, where a performance in the late 1980s helped convince your reviewer, then an impressionable undergraduate music student, that it was a good idea to go to graduate school and study medieval music.

Twenty years later, the program seems a little moth-eaten, the pseudo-medieval costumes and fanciful instrumental reconstructions and percussion accompaniments (lots of bells) having become a staple of Renaissance festivals. The music is all based on solid, if now venerable scholarship, but the combination of liturgical drama (Latin plays from Rouen and Fleury) with conductus and motets of the Notre Dame school, all grafted onto the Ordinary of the Mass (in polyphonic settings from France and England), now seems heterogeneous. [Continue reading]
The Christmas Story
The Waverly Consort
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

SEE ALSO:
Bernard Holland, A Waverly Pageant (New York Times, December 20, 1982)

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