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MUSIC REVIEW

Underwhelming finale for Master Chorale

A few bright spots enliven a lackluster last concert at the Chandler.

June 09, 2003|Richard S. Ginell | Special To The Times

Two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Philharmonic bid farewell to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; Saturday night, it was the Los Angeles Master Chorale's turn. And the Master Chorale's concert ended in a similarly festive manner, with a bang and a burst of blue, silver and white streamers.

Alas, despite the devilishly clever "It's a Wrap!" title, this concert of film music was a numbingly uninteresting way to send the Master Chorale off to Disney Hall. It may well be true that the Master Chorale is the most-often-used chorus for films, but that was not its function at the Pavilion -- and so the program did not really celebrate its main achievement there: performing choral masterpieces over 39 seasons.

Forget for a minute about the caliber of a lot of the music -- things like the cloying excerpts from "Edward Scissorhands"; a bland, 18 1/2-minute damp blanket of rhetoric from "Triumph of the Spirit"; a similarly static suite from "Titanic"; and Jeremy Soule's hectoring "Extase." The main problem was that much of the program did not show off this magnificent chorus well.

Too often, all the Master Chorale was allowed to do was coo wordlessly along with the music. At other times, thick globs of orchestrations and choral singing combined to form a deafening muddle with no discernable detail.

But there were a few bright spots. One was conductor Grant Gershon's idea to open and close the concert with different scores for "Henry V," Sir William Walton's truly distinguished contribution to film and Patrick Doyle's well-constructed more recent effort. And the best, most moving thing about the evening was the encore, a beautifully voiced, a cappella arrangement of "Alleluia" by the Chorale's founder, Roger Wagner.

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