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MUSIC REVIEW

Long Beach Chorale Passes Mozart Muster

May 06, 1997|DANIEL CARIAGA

Mozart is the great leveler, with the power to bring musicians down, or at the very least, to humble them. Yet Mozart's music, with its ability to delineate players' and singers' accomplishments, can also legitimize because of its status as practically an SAT of professionalism.

Mark Barville's Long Beach Chorale, formed by the conductor in 1988, certainly passed the test Sunday night, in a tight and respectable performance of the C-minor Mass, K. 427, at the Greek Assumption Orthodox Church in east Long Beach.

The 54-member chorus sang handsomely, consistently in tune, with careful balances, generally delivering words successfully. Only in the programmed encore, the motet, "Ave Verum Corpus," did the text turn to mush.

The opening "Kyrie" of the Mass also proved difficult to understand and project, but the solid vocal ensemble--with a very strong, 23-player chamber orchestra--hit its stride in subsequent movements, particularly in a clarified "Qui tollis" that engaged the listener emotionally, speaking directly to the content of the text.

The four vocal soloists represented a decent plateau of accomplishment: They were sopranos Camille King and Kris Gould, tenor Steve Dunham and bass William Hanrahan.

Through no fault of her own, the virtuosic King came to grief in "Et incarnatus est," when the wind players of the orchestra literally swamped her in sound; perhaps they would, with justification, blame the church's inconsistent and unpredictable acoustics. Nevertheless, too loud is too loud.

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