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Mozart, Stravinsky Performed At Csla

June 10, 1986|JOHN HENKEN

Whatever the Chamber Singers of Cal State L.A. may have lacked Friday night, it wasn't an imaginative director. William Belan paired sacred works by Stravinsky and Mozart in a tight, intriguing program in the diminutive campus Music Hall.

Indeed, Mozart's Requiem suffered from a surfeit of conductorial imagination. Belan used Franz Beyer's edition for the orchestration but cut the Sanctus and Benedictus and abruptly reduced the Lacrymosa to the eight-bar fragment left by Mozart. He then added a brief organ introduction to the Offertory, to complete the interrupted harmonic movement.

Belan seated his 21 singers in front of and amid an unusually arranged orchestra, placing the tenors and violas behind everyone else. The singers also attempted a deliberately Germanic pronunciation of the Latin text.

Despite all this, Belan's young forces supplied purposeful energy and followed him alertly, some badly bobbled entrances aside. The solo quartet of soprano Kathryn Breidenthal, mezzo-soprano Marti Pia, tenor Timothy Johnson and baritone James Reitzell proved uneven in vocal accomplishment and maturity but united in earnest conviction.

The string players were apparently members of the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra, the rest Cal State L.A. instrumentalists--students and faculty. Again, individual abilities varied conspicuously.

Stravinsky's Mass made an interesting foil to the Requiem. Belan kept it admirably light and direct, though unduly rigid. The Chamber Singers projected the text evenly, but consistently allowed the 10 accompanying winds to overbalance their efforts. Soprano Elizabeth Biggs easily dominated the incidental solos.

The concert began with Stravinsky's gentle, unaccompanied Ave Maria. The singers produced a caressive, well-blended account of the neglected little work.

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