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Master Chorale Does a Second Take on Handel’s Messiah

Posted by on Dec 22nd, 2011 and filed under Leisure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Photo by Ted AYALA Grant Gershon shown directing the Los Angeles Master Chorale during their Dec. 18 performance of Handel’s “Messiah.” Seated at the foot of the stage, from left, are Abdiel Gonzales (bass), Daniel Chaney (tenor), Sunjoo Jeo (soprano) and Janelle DeStefano (mezzo-soprano).

By Ted AYALA

 Just a little under a week since they last performed it, the Los Angeles Master Chorale (LAMC) regrouped on Sunday at the Disney Hall for their second trip down Hallelujah Lane, courtesy of Handel’s “Messiah.”

Instead of the 2,000-plus singers that comprised of last week’s Disney Hall audience, you had the lucid and transparent sonorities of the LAMC’s voices – composed of 35 members for this performance – and a cast of new soloists.

As ever with Handel, it’s the chorus that really gets to shine, and the LAMC was on their best form here. Handel’s ornate contrapuntal writing emerged with resplendent clarity; textures breathed and were brought into higher relief for it. LAMC’s voices blended to form a tapestry of sound that enfolded this music with a welcome warmth and freshness. The gusto in their singing, captured at its best in the “For Unto Us A Child Is Born,” were of musicians totally in the thrall of the score, relishing and enjoying every note.

Gershon scaled back the forces of the LAMC’s orchestra here, adhering closer – but not pedantically so – to reputed baroque practice. Pointed dotted rhythms and swift tempos also moved hand-in-hand with warm string playing that employed judicious use of vibrato and dynamics. It helped enormously that Gershon is no sanctimonious Kapellmeister, keeping Handel’s music moving along with welcome bounce and spirit.

The art of the soloists in Sunday’s program was best characterized by their dazzling vocal agility and floridness.

Local tenor Daniel Chaney was a marvel in his solos. His was a voice that was immaculately nimble and precise; blossoming forth with silvery top notes that gave his voice a remarkable seraphic quality. Outstanding were his trills, which were dispatched with enviable ease and mastery.

His cohorts were no less impressive. Bass Abdiel Gonzalez rang sonorously but also with a surprising deftness not usually associated with basses. Mezzo-soprano Janelle DeStefano’s voice poured forth silkily and with great nobility. Sunjoo Jeo was the evening’s refulgent soprano. If her English diction left something to be desired, this was more than made up for with a pert voice of sunlit beauty and grace.

Sunlight really was the definition of this performance. Handel clearly had a loving God in mind when he composed the “Messiah.” This radiant performance, bursting with an infectious sense of joy, paid handsome tribute to the LAMC’s formidable musical acumen.

 

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