Concert Artists' Mozart program goes over like (Wolf)gangbusters

MUSIC REVIEW

October 14, 1991|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic

The best all-Mozart concert in Baltimore in the current bicentennial celebration of the composer's death may have taken place Saturday in Friedberg Hall. Edward Polochick and his Concert Artists of Baltimore performed the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola and Orchestra and the Requiem in D Minor with genuine distinction, reminding us (as many performances do not) why these works are considered masterpieces.

While this listener has generally admired Polochick as a conductor of choral works, that hasn't always been the case when he conducted orchestra-only repertory. But the performance of the Sinfonia was excellent. The conductor knew how to endow the lengthy opening crescendo with ever-growing grandeur and an anticipatory sense that even greater things were to come. And he gave both soloists, violinist Jose Cueto and violist Jennifer Rende -- respectively, the concertmaster and the principal violist of the orchestra -- warm, thoughtful support.

Cueto and Rende played beautifully. The two solo instruments spend a good deal of the piece leapfrogging over each other in conversation, and the playful way this was done bespoke two musicians who have been working together for years. The ensemble in the songful slow movement was so fine that one was less aware of two instruments working together than of the elegiac line of the melody.

The performance of the Requiem was a much better one than that heard last winter in Meyerhoff Hall when the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed the piece under the renowned Trevor Pinnock. Polochick was neither quirky nor over-serious in his approach: The music making was -- as Mozart almost always should be -- warmly human and dramatic. Both the orchestra and chorus were vital and accurate. The fine soloists were soprano Kimberly Hawkins, mezzo-soprano Allison Charney, tenor Gary Leard and -- the best singer of the evening -- bass Jonathan Deutsch.

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