Saturday, May 02, 2015

Berkeley Symphony Program IV

Thursday night, the Berkeley Symphony, in their last concert of the season, presented choral music by John Adams & Mozart. In the 1st half, a large orchestra & the combined Chamber & University Choruses of UC Berkeley performed 5 choruses from Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer. The mood was austere. The 2 exile choruses felt floaty & unmoored, & the Chorus of Hagar & the Angel communicated Hagar's fatigue without being slow or sluggish. The Night Chorus was portentous, & the Day Chorus had a sense of awakening.

The choir was assured, & each section executed its solo passages with confidence. The singers were on low risers across the back of the stage but seemed far away. Conductor Joana Carneiro marked every downbeat with jabbing, rectilinear motions, which may have smoothed out the music's rhythmic complexity. I liked the vigorous playing of the double basses & violas in the Chorus of Hagar & the Angel. Mr. Adams was in the audience & received a warm ovation when he came down the aisle to take a bow in front of the stage.

The 2nd half used a slightly reduced orchestra & chorus for the Mozart Requiem. Soprano Jacqueline Piccolino's voice was clear, full & bright, & mezzo Zanda Švēde made a wonderfully rich, alto-like sound. Tenor Michael Dailey sounded pleasingly cushy & had clear diction. He occasionally looked like he was trying not to laugh. Bass Anthony Reed has a firm yet easeful voice that is even a bit sweet. All the soloists got stronger as the piece progressed.

Maestra Carneiro was a vivacious conductor, & tempos were light-footed & swift. She made vigorous upward stabbing gestures & kept the music buoyant. The orchestra & chorus sounded secure, & there were no rough edges. The supportive audience gave the performers a standing ovation, & all the principles received bouquets. Due to a ticket printing snafu at will call, the show started 20 minutes late, but the audience patiently waited out the delay. Executive Director René Mandel introduced the concert, & the audience particularly applauded when he welcomed Berkeley Bowl as a new sponsor.

§ Berkeley Symphony
Joana Carneiro, conductor

Jacqueline Piccolino, soprano
Zanda Švēde, mezzo-soprano
Michael Dailey, tenor
Anthony Reed, bass
Chamber Chorus of the University of California, Berkeley
University Chorus of the University of California, Berkeley
Marika Kuzma, director

Program IV: Homage

John Adams: Choruses from The Death of Klinghoffer
    Chorus of Exiled Palestinians
    Chorus of Exiled Jews
    Night Chorus
    Chorus of Hagar and the Angel
    Day Chorus

Mozart: Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 026

April 30, 2015, 8:00 pm
Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley

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