Pasa Tem­pos

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPOS - — James M. Keller

Divine Re­deemer with Christine Brewer & Paul Ja­cobs; Mark McGuire’s Be­yond Be­lief

Christine Brewer has en­joyed a long love af­fair with Santa Fe, hav­ing sung in five pro­duc­tions at our opera house, from 1999 (when she de­buted in the ti­tle role of Strauss’ Ari­adne auf Naxos) through 2010 (as an im­pos­ing Lady Bil­lows in Brit­ten’s Al­bert Her­ring). For her lat­est CD, she pages through the note­book ev­ery so­prano church soloist keeps at the ready, alight­ing on such ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal ever­greens as Gounod’s “O Divine Re­deemer!” and Franck’s “Pa­nis an­geli­cus,” both of which, her per­for­mances re­mind us, are won­der­ful pieces if you pay at­ten­tion rather than read the an­nounce­ments in the weekly church bul­letin. Other items are less fa­mil­iar, in­clud­ing Lili Boulanger’s haunt­ing “Pie Jesu,” an early “Salve Regina” by Puc­cini (he re­cy­cled it in his first opera, Le villi), and three songs by Hugo Wolf ar­ranged with or­gan ac­com­pa­ni­ments by Max Reger. The or­gan­ist is the im­pres­sive Paul Ja­cobs, one of the few Amer­i­can con­cert all-stars on the in­stru­ment. He also gives fine read­ings of solo works by Na­dia Boulanger and Bach, plus a vir­tu­osic ren­di­tion of the daz­zling, bor­der­line in­sane Toc­cata and Fugue from Reger’s Twelve Pieces, Op. 59. The echo­ing acous­tics of the Church of the Gesu in Mil­wau­kee, with its huge or­gan of 115 ranks con­tain­ing 6,804 pipes, prove flat­ter­ing for Brewer. Her up­per reaches come less eas­ily than once they did, but she still emits a pow­er­ful, lux­u­ri­ous tone.

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