From the Viennese dance halls to high-end art songs from Germany in the late 1800s, with a touch of opera from the same time period, Eugene classical music fans received a relaxed, warm treat on a bone-chilly evening Sunday, Jan. 27, courtesy of the chamber ensemble microphilharmonic.
The audience, young and old alike, was invited early on to dance in spirit, and it did — even to the subtle sounds of an accordion.
The 11 instrumentalists had the good-sized Jaqua Concert Hall audience at The Shedd swaying to Johann Strauss II (“The Emperor’s Waltz” and “Roses From The South”), Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and a charged special arrangement of Strauss’ Overture to Die Fledermaus.
Sandwiched between this was the splendid baritone Harry Baechtel, an assistant professor of voice at Portland State University, who sang four pieces from Gustav Mahler’s Songs of Wayfarer. He received a standing ovation from the knowledgeable audience, and he deserved it.
All of it was a salute to the 100th anniversary of the Viennese Society for Private Musical Performances, a series of performances in Vienna from 1919-21 that featured contemporary works of the time, and to which critics were not welcomed.
I found nothing to criticize on this Sunday night, especially Baechtel’s performance. His diction was perfect, as were his stage presence and his voice. In a group of greatly trained musicians, Baechtel was the highlight of the evening.