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Ozawa, Oliver bring out religious side of Requiem

BOSTON SYMPHONY

ORCHESTRA

Conducted by Seiji Ozawa.

Tanglewood Festival Chorus,

John Oliver, Director.

Mozart's Requiem, and

Stravinsky's Apollo.

December 5, 7 & 10 at 8 pm.

Today at 2 pm.

By JONATHAN RICHMOND

SEIJI OZAWA AND JOHN OLIVER HAVE produced a performance of Mozart's Requiem of religious depth for this week's performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It isn't the hardest-hitting of possible interpretations, but it is pure Mozart and it is spiritually soothing.

The performance is blessed with a quartet of soloists, who not only show a sensitive understanding of the music, but blend together effectively. Yesterday night, soprano Deborah Voigt's soaring lines and nobility of voice evoked the presence of Mozart's Countess (from The Marriage of Figaro) during some of her most profound moments. Janis Taylor, mezzo-soprano, sang firmly and with vigor, providing a natural contrast to Voigt.

John del Carlo's baritone voice projected strongly, while tenor Philip Langridge drew the maximum drama from his music in a fresh and lively treatment of his part. The quartet together sounded quite operatic and made their music alive with meaning.

John Oliver's Tanglewood Festival Chorus sang with its trademark clarity and attention to enunciation. Hearing each word being carefully shaped and delivered to capture the maximum interest was a real pleasure. The women sang with a moving quietness at times, accentuating the holiness of their musical message. Singing in unison the chorus evoked power, at the end of the Kyrie, and during the noble-sounding Rex tremendae, for example. The Confutatis and Lacrimosa may have been more relaxed than in many other performances, but the power of these movements lay in the inner-emotions which were expressed. There was a wonderfully managed crescendo during the Lacrimosa, which was magical in its evocation of the warmth and humanity of Mozart.

Orchestral playing was sensitive, from the haunting opening of the Requiem to the soft, pious string playing for the final line of the Rex tremendae. There were brief passages of slack, and times when more differentiation between the orchestral voices would have been desirable. But, given the choice of an "original instruments" performance, where individuality of instrumental voices can be more easily accomplished, but where the interpretation has little substance (of which Christopher Hogwood's Symphony Hall performance with the Handel & Haydn Society is a prime example), and a performance with less instrumental individuality but a living, glowing soul -- such as that of Ozawa and Oliver -- I'll choose the latter every day.

The concert also included Stravinsky's Apollo. The performance could have been more tautly done, but there was much color to the playing.