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NMSO concert review: Gorecki's Third/Poulenc ``Gloria'', Oct. 16, 1998

This paragraph appeared in the Albuquerque Tribune of January 1, 1999, in Cathy Robbins' retrospective of the classical music year:

In October, the NMSO delivered a courageous all-20th-century program with Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 and Poulenc's Gloria. The Gorecki piece is a quasi-religious work, dark with grief. Soloist Janice Chandler delivered a controlled quality to this emotional work that, underscored by the orchestra's disciplined playing, deepened its effect. With the Gloria the orchestra and chorus sent us out of the hall renewed and refreshed.

This review appeared in the Albuquerque Journal of Oct. 18, 1998.

Heavenly music draws big crowd

by Joanne Sheehy Hoover

The English poet John Addison called music ``the greatest good that mortals know and all of heaven that we have below.''

The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra's Friday night concert in Popejoy Hall offered a large heavenly dose with two 20th century spiritual works.

Given the conservative bent of some of its followers, the program was viewed as a gamble by the symphony. Neither the Pole, Henryk Gorecki, nor the Frenchman, Francis Poulenc, falls into the standard classic lineup.

The healthy-sized audience not only had exceeded projections but also, vital for the NMSO's future, included many first-time symphony goers, according to NMSO executive director Kevin Hagen.

The audience was treated to an exceptional evening. In exploring new ways to pull new listeners into the music, the NMSO carefully laid the setting for Gorecki's Third Symphony in the first half: Candles were lit on the chorus seats behind the orchestra. The darkened hall grew silent. The soloist, soprano Janice Chandler, was in place as conductor David Lockington slipped onto the podium.

This gifted transformation of the hall brought the audience into a calm, centered state, ready to receive the slow unfolding of the symphony. The quality of listening by the audience had a remarkable intensity.

Inspired by earlier spiritual traditions, Gorecki's austere music moves in deep waves. Its repeating phrases, like a kind of chant, break through the mind to touch the soul.

Lockington pulled from the strings a strongly sustained performance. In its serenity, his interpretation at times, however, edged toward the too subdued. The first movement in particular needed more inner thrust as well as a greater presence from the basses to anchor the work's vast tonal space.

The smooth, even-voiced Chandler brought a distinctive quality to the work's three ``sorrowful songs.'' Lockington, who knows Chandler from his Baltimore days, says she chooses to focus on works with spiritual impact.

That deep purpose shines through her music-making. Her sound is charged by an ethereal ingredient, a quiet spiritual shimmering, that speaks directly to the heart.

With the expanded forces of the orchestra and the NMSO Chorus, prepared by Roger Melone, the program leaped exuberantly into Poulenc's ``Gloria.'' As spiritual in intent as the Gorecki, Poulenc's music also possesses an appealing earthiness; he compared his faith to that of a country parson---simple, yet deep.

Chandler and the chorus took particular pleasure in the lush harmonies of the second ``Domine Deus,'' trading finely shaped phrases. Her rendering of the exquisitely arching line was heaven itself.

Next: NMSO concert review: Walton's ``Belshazzar's Feast,'' May 22, 1998
See also: New Mexico Symphony Orchestra Chorus: schedule and reviews, 1995–2011
Previous: NMSO concert review: Verdi, ``Four Sacred Pieces,'' Jan. 16, 1999
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John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 1999/01/02 21:06:46