| SITE RATING:
This 1998 recording, which took place at the Eastminster
Presbyterian Church in Wichita, Kansas, was obviously made as a memento
for choir and orchestra members and their families, and, despite being
an amateur production, conductor John Leavitt has done some unique
vocal restructuring, making this recording more interesting than it
otherwise would have been. The most
jarring evidence that this is not a professional group are the
soloists, with alto Cammie Nelson sounding like she's fresh out of high
school, possessing more of a very light "pop" voice than classical -
and who is truly out of her depth singing Handel. Treble Matthew Leavitt (I'm going to
assume a familial
relationship between him and the director) struggles, having a pleasant
tone, but uncertain pitch and vocal weakness during his solos.
Soprano Meg Houston
fine, bell-like tone, but struggles with minor pitch issues, while bass
Lance Fairbairn sounds as if he's auditioning for a community theater
production of "Les Miserables." But during his one solo, "The
Trumpet Shall Sound" - the men of the Choir join in during the last
half of the aria (!), an addition which would horrify purists,
but which I found very interesting. Conductor John
Leavitt makes other fresh choices with vocal assignments, with a
children's chorus handling
"There Were Shepherds in the Field", and who sing with pure, if rather
blocked phrasing. It's a refreshing change of pace, and they join
the adult choir in "Glory To God" in a invigorating chorus.
The children's chorus also takes on "Then Shall the Eyes of the
Blind Be Opened" and "He Shall Feed His Flock", with similar fine
pitch, but rather rote and square, lacking the sensitive feeling which
a mature soloist can bring to them. All in all, this is a more
recording than I would have suspected, with sturdy choral and
orchestral work, and curious use of a children's choir throughout.
For collector's only.