Sunday, December 04, 2011

PBO: Bach’s Mass in B minor

Philharmonia Baroque, 12.02.2011 Herbst Theatre audience at Philharmonia Baroque performance of Bach's B Minor Mass.Friday night I heard Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra perform Bach's B Minor Mass. Conductor Nicholas McGegan presented the Mass as a collection of contrasting movements & led with fleet tempos & a light mood. The 2 opening Credo movements went like a very fast walk. The strings bounced their bows during the Resurrexit. Everyone's heads bobbed up and down in the Sanctus & Osanna. The Cum Santco Spiritu had a frantic pace. The small chorus of 24 was assured. The overall sound was smooth but one could always distinguish the individual lines. The performance featured a lot of precise articulation but a narrow dynamic range.

Soprano Sherezade Panthaki has a pretty voice, with a pure, warm tone, & her singing is very legato. Tenor Thomas Cooley has a clear, bright voice that reaches easily out into the hall. I felt like he was singing right at me. I also liked his clear diction. He & Ms. Panthaki sounded chirpy in the Domine Deus. Baritone Nathaniel Watson's voice has a slight metallic sound, & he sings with a strong center of pitch & good diction. Countertenor Daniel Taylor sang straightforwardly. In the Agnus Dei he seemed to have very little air, &, though he sang all the notes, his voice came close to disappearing. Maestro McGegan & orchestra responded by playing quietly enough not to cover him.

During the duets & arias, the obbligato players in the orchestra stood to accompanying the vocal soloists. In the Laudamus te, concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock gave her ornate line an improvisatory feel. R.J. Kelley struggled with the valveless horn in the Quoniam. We probably heard twice as many pitches as were notated. Stephen Schultz maintained a long line on the Baroque flute in the Benedictus. The audience was quiet & attentive & applauded the chorus especially enthusiastically.

§ Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Nicholas McGegan, conductor

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Daniel Taylor, countertenor
Thomas Cooley, tenor
Nathaniel Watson, baritone
Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, Director

BACH: Mass in B minor

Fri., Dec. 2, 2011, 8 PM
Herbst Theatre

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