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Anne-Sophie Mutter, Tanglewooed Chorus shine with BSO



With the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Works by Bartok and Mozart.

Anne-Sophie Mutter, soloist.

Directed by Seiji Ozawa and John Oliver.

Symphony Hall, Feb. 16.


LAST SATURDAY, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed an exciting double-header beginning with Bartok's Violin Concerto No. 2 -- featuring internationally renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter as soloist -- and concluding with Mozart's Mass in C Minor. Mutter, who has appeared with the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, recently concluded a Far East tour featuring concerto performances with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. In the past, she has recorded various works by the masters with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony. Her recent engagement in Boston marks the beginning of her six-week North American tour.

Mutter's interpretation of the work demonstrated a unique virtuosity that reminded one of the great Italian violinist, Paganini. Her command of the quick runs, combined with her ability to keep the piece moving at presto, made the concerto exciting to listen to. At times, it seemed like Mutter was presenting a show of the many different string techniques, ranging from sliding glissandos to sharp staccatos and pizzicatos.

The second half of the performance featured the Tanglewood Festival Chorus under the baton of MIT Senior Lecturer in Music and Theater Arts John S. Oliver. Due to soprano Sylvia MacNair's unexpected illness, the audience was greeted with a surprise soloist, Heidi Grant, whose brilliant performance suggested a promising future career. Grant's voice, which ran through a whole range of notes, blended richly with the instrumental accompaniment.

The solemnity of the mass' first movement, "Kyrie," contrasted strongly with the liveliness of the famous "Gloria," which featured soprano Susanne Mentzer and the rich tenor voice of Jerry Hadley. Mentzer did not seem as confident in singing her part, with her voice quivering at times. It was apparent that both sopranos were more comfortable singing the high notes than the low ones near the alto range.

The two sopranos managed to complement each other with contrasting harmonies, singing similar parts at different times in a skillful overlap. As the chorus rejoined the soloists in singing "Quoi

tollis," the dynamics changed drastically once again, with constant crescendos and diminuendos. The way the voices were blended with the orchestra suggested a conversation between the instruments and the voices.

The symphony continued this theme when the chorus sang "Cum sancto Spiritu," featuring bass soloist John Ostendorf, who was accompanied by Hadley's booming tenor. During the "Sanctus," the lively blasts of the horn section, whose fanfare suggested the coming glory of the Lord, joined the chorus. The night ended with the audience's roar of approval for Grant, whose performance erased any possible doubts to her ability.