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Music Review : Tribute To Musicals

February 10, 1986|CHRIS PASLES

One of the glories of the American musical theater is the perfect match between a song and the character singing it. But precisely this match was often missing in a program of music from Broadway and Hollywood musicals conducted by Roger Wagner at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday.

Of the four soloists, only baritone Rodney Gilfry varied his approach sufficiently to suggest an individual character in a particular situation. Gilfry's smooth, ample baritone (thinned out only at the top) ranged from quiet thoughtfulness in "Gigi," lyric vision in "Camelot" to broad humor in "With a Little Bit of Luck" (from "My Fair Lady").

Stephen Amerson, however, applied his strong, brassy, even-toned tenor with a one-style-suits- everything approach, whether in "If I Loved You" (from "Carousel") or "On the Street Where You Live" ("My Fair Lady"). Similarly, soprano Celeste Tavera sounded elegant, refined and exactly the same in both "Wonderful Guy" ("South Pacific") and in "Mister Snow" ("Carousel").

Likewise, mezzo-soprano Leslie Richards sang an inspirational "Climb Every Mountain" ("The Sound of Music"), but found only generalized meaning in "I Could Have Danced All Night" ("My Fair Lady").

The 40-voiced Los Angeles Master Chorale sang with more diversity then did these soloists, and always with rich, vibrant tone.

Wagner conducted with verve and sweep, and members of the Pacific Symphony responded alertly. But pervasive amplification distanced all the performers from the audience.

Stephanie and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. were the graceful narrators.

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