For many listeners, the existence of Haydn's Masses is their only consolation for the unhappy circumstance of Mozart's early death. The younger composer did not live long enough to produce any operas after "The Magic Flute," but such episodes as the tenor and baritone duet in the "Et Incarnatus Est" of Haydn's "Creation Mass" approach the Mozartean empyrean.
Those listeners were made both happy and sad yesterday by the fact that the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and its music director, Tom Hall, performed the "Creation Mass" -- which is not to be confused with the composer's better known, English-style oratorio, "The Creation" -- in Kraushaar Auditorium on the Goucher College campus. Happy to hear such great music so well-performed; sad that Hall has completed his six-year project of performing all six of these pieces that Haydn wrote toward the end of his life.
The performance was typical of Hall's performances in that there was nothing churchy about it. The music was well-paced, there was an appropriate sense of grandeur, the accompaniment of the singers was sensitive, and the coordination of choral and orchestral forces was well-judged enough so that inner detail was rarely lost.