COSTA MESA — At 154 voices, the William Hall Master Chorale may be too large for its own good.
Certainly it allows Hall, one of our most intelligent and sensitive conductors, to sculpt vast shapes of sound, at times visceral in impact, rich in depth and huge in volume.
But trade-offs could be heard Saturday in a Brahms program at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
In "Ein deutsches Requiem" (A German Requiem), the text, though usually intelligible, rarely was interpreted with the fervor and detail Hall consistently evoked from the underpowered (relative to the singers) 54-member orchestra. Incisive choral entrances were impossible. More seriously, the wonderful Biblical texts didn't signify.
Fortunately, this was not true in the singing of the soloists, soprano Patricia Prunty and baritone Rodney Gilfry.
It was an oddball concert, opening with a lovely a cappella chorus, "In stiller Nacht" (In Still of Night), continuing nontraditionally with a string quartet, then moving to the devastating "Vier ernste Gesange," (Four Serious Songs), with Gilfry sensitively accompanied by pianist Grant Gershon.