Friday's second half was devoted to Mahler's First Symphony. St.Clair led a carefully controlled performance, but the orchestra played nervously, as if not used to being so nakedly exposed but still wanting to overindulge in the reverberance.
For Saturday's program, Artec deployed more sound-absorbing fabric, slightly reducing the reverberation. Beethoven's Violin Concerto opened the program. Midori was the soloist, playing with impressive effortlessness, but so effortless as to be a tad boring. St.Clair kept a smallish orchestra discrete. The sound from my seat satisfyingly revealed balances and inner lines. I think that was the first time I ever heard the orchestra's violas, which were always lost in the bigger Segerstrom.
Glass' "The Passion of Ramakrishna," a co-commission with the Nashville Symphony, required the involvement of Pacific Chorale and three vocal soloists (Cynthia Haymon-Coleman, baritone Christopheren Nomura and bass-baritone Nathan Berg). It is a moving work celebrating the last days of the saint and his saintly wife. The musical style breaks little new ground for Glass, except for the glorious Handelian ending. But the composer's style ideally fits the devotional text, and St.Clair approached the 45-minute score with irresistible enthusiasm. The chorus blared unintelligibly.
Open a new hall, and stuff happens. Turning on the Wilson installation and party lights during the last movement of the Mahler on Friday caused a power surge arrester to rumble ominously and ruin the soft passages.