Choral Arts meets demands of Mozart

February 22, 1993|By Robert Haskins | Robert Haskins,Contributing Writer

To any musician, performing Mozart well is one of the plateaus of the art. His music is transparent and almost fragile; the slightest imperfections of rhythm or intonation are unforgivably apparent. In Mozart's music, there is nowhere to hide.

Thus, an all-Mozart program by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society at the Meyerhoff Saturday night can be viewed as nothing less than an act of extreme heroism. And while the concert had certain failings, there were plenty of musical moments as perfect as Mozart's music itself.

The society's account of the "Ave Verum Corpus," K. 618, was such amoment. Music director Tom Hall used the full chorus and orchestra for this tiny motet. In lesser hands, such forces would strain the work's intimacy to absurdity, but the sound here was restrained and miraculously tranquil -- all without the slightest impression of effort.

Their performance of the "Requiem," K. 626, was as perfect for its sense of urgent drama as the "Ave Verum" was for its serenity. Mr. Hall's keen sense of style was readily apparent, as was his wonderful gift for effective musical pacing. The chorus was, as usual, outstanding.

Soloists Fleta Hylton, Wendy Bloom, Rockland Osgood and Thomas Jones were as in tune with each other as a string quartet that hasperformed together for decades. They were excellent soloists in their own right as well, with Mr. Osgood's performances particularly insightful.

In the first half of the program, Mr. Hall led fine performances of Mozart's First Symphony (K. 16, written at the ripe age of 8) and the B-flat Major Piano Concerto, K. 595, (with pianist Katya Grineva in her American debut).

Ms. Grineva has the makings of a fine Mozart pianist; not the least of her virtues is the luminescent but distinct tone she gets from the instrument. What she still lacks, however, is absolute command of tempo and rhythmic nuance, a skill absolutely essential in preserving the delicate balance of Mozart's music.

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