CITYMUSIC CLEVELAND TRANSPORTS LISTENERS WITH MOZART, SCHUBERT The Plain Dealer: May 6, 2009
CityMusic Cleveland is an essential part of the region's musical fabric.
Just ask Mozart and Schubert.
The Viennese masters have the pleasure of
spending nearly an hour with the chamber orchestra on the program music
director James Gaffigan is leading this week to end the ensemble's fifth
season. As short as the concert may be, it's full of transporting and
CityMusic presented the program, "Heaven & Earth,"
Wednesday at Cleveland's St. Vitus Church, a space far more beautiful
for eyes than ears. The church's reverberant acoustics create layers of
sound that are generous at the high and low ends but wooly in the
middle. Inner voices and details tend to get lost within the vague
Even so, the music-making that could be discerned served the
composers to telling effect. Few symphonies have greater impact on brain
and heart than Mozart's Symphony No. 41, subtitled "Jupiter," which
conductor and players explored with bold and sensitive assurance.
Gaffigan took every repeat, allowing the audience to rediscover the
extraordinary compositional feats in all their splendor. Contrasts
between majesty and lyricism were stressed, and phrases breathed with
natural grace. Even the acoustical halo that surrounded the musicians
diminished neither the finale's miraculous unfolding of materials nor
the orchestra's alert, silken playing.
Unlike Mozart in the "Jupiter,"
the 18-year-old Schubert doesn't try to rattle the skies in his Mass No.
2 in G major, which is more concerned with joyous and tranquil spirits
than drama. The movements are short and mostly radiant, aside from the
final, solemn "Agnus Dei," in which the teenaged composer hints of
probing things to come.
The performance had ample rhythmic buoyancy and
poetic elegance under Gaffigan's thoughtful guidance, and the soloists -
soprano Chabrelle Williams, tenor Roy Hage and baritone Matthew Hayward
- proved to be stylish Schubertians, when they could be heard.
score's choral duties were entrusted to the inspired voices of Quire
Cleveland, the new professional ensemble that focuses mainly on Medieval
and Renaissance repertoire. On this occasion, it was delightful to hear
director Peter Bennett and his choristers also bring exceptional purity
of pitch and crisp enunciation to the Classical needs of Schubert's
And what an encore: Mozart's "Ave verum corpus," in
which Quire floated the haunting lines on streams of the freshest air.
Donald Rosenberg, Plain Dealer Music Critic
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: email@example.com, 216-999-4269.