Shaw, BSO, Chorus: Just tremendous

October 21, 1995|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

This review is from yesterday's late editions.

The popular title of Mozart's uncompleted C Minor Mass is "The Great," and the word for the performance it received Thursday night in Meyerhoff Hall from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Chorus is tremendous. This was the best playing this listener has heard the BSO do this season, and, young though this season is, he does not expect to hear better.

The chief reason for this excellence was the presence of Robert Shaw on the podium. Shaw is so often (and has been for so long) called the world's greatest choral conductor that it sometimes comes as a surprise to discover that he really is. The BSO Chorus, which was prepared by its director, Edward Polochick, responded to Shaw with the magic he usually elicits from choirs. One could enjoy the pleasures of understanding every word and of hearing flawless intonation and balances.

Shaw interpreted the piece with almost Handelian splendor -- Mozart had just discovered the manuscripts of the great Anglo-Germanic composer -- that eschewed any trace of heaviness. The instrumental and vocal textures were transparent, and the conductor's control of rhythm was as resilient as it was secure.

The performance received an immeasurable lift from the contributions of its fine soloists, particularly that of soprano Janice Chandler and mezzo-soprano Delores Ziegler.

It is sad to report that the season's most splendid concert was also its most poorly attended. The program will be repeated tonight at 8:15.

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