HEAVEN AND EARTH CITYMUSIC CLEVELAND CoolCleveland.com: May 11, 2008
Celebrations are almost
always fun. Saturday evening's concert by CityMusic Cleveland with
soloists and Quire, the new chamber vocal ensemble, was no exception. So
what were they celebrating? Two things, actually. This week's concerts
marked the end of the fifth season for this exuberant group. Not
coincidentally, it also marked the fifth straight year the versatile
chamber orchestra (which charges no admission fees, ever, surviving on
grants and other contributions) has ended their fiscal year in the
black! Hooray for them!
Anyway. One of the really neat things about CityMusic's philosophy is
presenting the same concert over 4-6 days in different venues around the
city. So, if you miss one night, there are usually others for you to
catch up with them. It's also neat to see the various venues in which
they perform. The Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus is a truly gorgeous
edifice, although the acoustics can sometimes be tricky. This time they
pretty much always cooperated, sending an abundance of beautiful sounds
out over the audience. I think every available seat was filled.
Music Director James Gaffigan chose two joyous works for this concert:
Mozart's Symphony No. 41, (K. 551) known as the 'Jupiter,' and Mass No.
2 in G major, D. 167 of Franz Schubert. The concert also marked the
orchestral debut of Quire Cleveland, the new chamber choir directed by
Peter Bennett. To be sure, this partnership should be highly encouraged!
In addition, three young soloists from Oberlin also appeared in the
latter work. More about that in a bit.
The Mozart was light and airy, with notes skittering out of the flutes
and violins to waft their way around the large sanctuary. No matter how
delicate they were, they were each entirely audible, due in part to the
short reverb time for instrumental notes. (It's sometimes different for
vocal efforts.) Considering the age of the composer when the music was
written (32) and the young age of the conductor, one could certainly say
this was a young man's music. In fact, Mr. Gaffigan danced around the
podium to the sinuous rhythms of the first movement. You can't fault
him, it was very difficult to sit still.
The Menuetto was positively bouyant, with the winds tripping lightly
down a chromatic scale under the strings. The finale was triumphant and
majestic, clarifying the title 'Jupiter.'
Schubert was all of 18 when he wrote his second Mass. What a slacker!
The performance, however, was terrific, aided as it was by the
crystalline clarity of soprano soloist Chabrelle Williams. Every note
seemed entirely effortless as it floated over the orchestra and chorus
to lovely effect. Although their parts were not as large, tenor Roy Hage
and baritone Matthew Hayward acquitted themselves equally well.
The 18 choristers sang as one person, with amazing diction and pitch. Of
course, Schubert was known as a supreme melodist, and he certainly
demonstrates that quality in this work. At times, he wrote especially
ethereal and peaceful music which prompted sighs of contentment from the
In response to the enthusiastic applause, Mr. Gaffigan and his musicians
gave us an encore. Ave verum corpus by Mozart was lighter than air. And
then, he bounded out to the podium again, flashed his notorious grin and
announced 'You have no choice. I want to do it again.' I suspect we'd
have all sat happily listening, had he chosen to do it another dozen
CityMusic Cleveland will announce their sixth season soon. Details will
be on their website http://www.CityMusicCleveland.org.
From Cool Cleveland contributor Kelly Ferjutz artswriterATroadrunner.com