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MUSIC REVIEW : Mozart, Schubert Lose in Rendition by Coast Chorale

November 23, 1987|CHRIS PASLES | Times Staff Writer

Whatever extracurricular virtues the Orange Coast Chorale may provide by bringing together community members and Orange Coast College students, one could not say that Mozart and Schubert were particularly well served Saturday by the chorale in a program directed by Richard Raub in the Robert B. Moore Theatre on campus in Costa Mesa.

Two choral works--Mozart's "Vesperae Solennes de Confessore" in C and Schubert's Mass No. 6 in E-flat--were on the program with Mozart's Clarinet Concerto.

Clarinetist David Sasaki gave a rough-hewn, aggressive reading of this most serene, eloquent music. He was technically insecure, playing with hard, reedy tone and occasionally putting body English into his phrasing, which did nothing to help make Mozart's lines sing.

Raub and orchestra accompanied gamely, but with imprecision in ensemble and with occasional mismatches in tempo and phrasing.

Throughout the concert the small pickup orchestra proved especially scrappy. But in Mozart's "Vesperes" it virtually overpowered the 31-member Orange Coast Singers. Particularly disconcerting was the contrast between the orchestra's roughness and the singers' sweet, top-heavy sound, which, however attractive, lacked the requisite drama for these pieces (only five of the six were sung).

Soprano Jane Thorngren, mezzo-soprano Kathie Freeman, tenor Bruce Johnson and bass Hector Vasquez popped up and down like toast to make their contributions. Generally, these were brief, except for the long, ethereal arioso in "Laudate Dominum," which Thorngren rendered with a coolish soprano, imperfect enunciation and unsustained phrasing.

The Orange Coast Singers and the 91-member chorale combined to sing Schubert's Mass, with dispiriting results. Although the sound was better balanced and more nourished, the singing lacked conviction.

Indeed, Raub's forces at times made Schubert sound gauche, which is virtually unimaginable. Schubert's plea for peace would seem capable of coaxing results out of any implacable deity, but the Orange Coast forces managed to make this dull, too. The quartet sang sturdily.

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