Symphony and Concert Choir shine in Kresge
MIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Conducted by David Epstein.
Nina Miller, Piano.
Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21,
and works by Debussy and Jan'acek.
Kresge Auditorium, Dec. 7.
MIT CONCERT CHOIR
With professional orchestra.
Conducted by John Oliver.
Works by Stravinsky,
Mozart and Bach.
Kresge Auditorium, Dec. 9.
By JONATHAN RICHMOND
SATURDAY NIGHT SAW THE MIT Symphony Orchestra on top form for a sensitive performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21,
K. 467, with Nina Miller as piano soloist. This is a work full of subtlety, and difficult to do well, but both soloist and orchestra displayed a rich palette of colors, ranging from light to dark, and put in a performance at once captivating and reflective.
Miller's piano playing in the opening and closing movements was quite spritely but not without its mystery, captured in moments of telling emphasis; orchestral sound was buoyant and full, blending to support and interact with the piano with a natural ease.
The Andante was taken at a nice, gentle pace, but was arresting nonetheless. A heartbeat could be heard in the bass strings' pizzicato, and the delicate colors evoked during the interplay of orchestral voices and between orchestra and piano created a contemplative mood of profundity.
Such an atmosphere was Mozart's intention, of course, but Mozart knew he couldn't leave his audience in such a state at a work's conclusion, and the energetic upbeat response of orchestra and soloist in the finale left everyone happy.
The concert began with the Nocturnes Nuages and F^etes by Debussy, and both were strongly performed: the first dreamy, but also made exciting by the tensions created in a tightly-controlled crescendo; the second colorful, chirpy and with the excitement of the first nocturne more exuberantly displayed.
The concert also included a performance of Jan'acek's Sinfonietta.
[gfG]OOD THINGS CONTINUED IN Kresge last night, when John Oliver led his MIT Concert Choir in works by Stravinsky, Mozart and Bach. The performance of Stravinsky's Mass, a wickedly difficult piece, was the most successful. John Oliver directed an interpretation that was all about rhythms: biting, incisive, but ultimately religious rhythms. Mezzo-soprano Pamela Murray and soprano Margaret O'Keefe went well together for a deeply-felt introduction to the Gloria, for example; the chorus then entered with a breathless urgency carried in strident rhythms.
The entry of female voices in the Agnus Dei was particularly wonderful and beautifully controlled, and those penetrating rhythms hit through until the last note.
The concert had begun with Mozart's Kyrie in D minor, K. 368a, expansively done. Bach's O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens licht came next, and came across less well, with cloudiness in choral singing in places. There were some passages in the Mozart C Minor Mass, too, where voices were not quite sharply defined, but they were few and the performance was, for the most part, a delight.
There were several memorable moments, perhaps particularly the serenity of the Et incarnatus est and the meditative choral chant of Jesu Christe. The orchestra was nicely balanced, strings showing an ability to play with a soft mournfulness which was quite gripping, woodwinds singing along with a remarkably open airiness. At times tempi might have been tighter, but the piece came to a jubilant end with a powerfully-sung Hosanna in excelsis.