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Posts Tagged ‘Mozart; Louis Langrée; Sally Matthews ; Kate Lindsey’

The fact that I was not in the mood for R. Strauss’ s Metamorphosen made me foresee 26 minutes of absent-mindness. I have to confess: I find Metamorphosen a difficult piece. Its steady process of emotional concentration on a restricted thematic palette can strike one as a bit repetitive if you’re not in the mood for melancholy. But Louis Langrée reached out for me – the increasing tension he could build not only through dynamics but also through tone-colouring finally forced me into the pensive state-of-mind suggested by Strauss.

Again I won’t lie – my main interest in the concert was Mozart’ s Mass KV 427, a wonderful catalogue of coral writing possibilities seen through the eyes of the master of Empfindsamkeit. I also happen to believe that Langrée’s recording for Virgin Classics features the best conducting in the catalogue – it is a theatrical, powerful experience. And so it was tonight. Langrée’ s rhythmic drive, strong accents and understanding of choral singing makes a piece accused of incoherence especialy organic. I cannot tell how much of a pick-up group the Mostly Mozart forces are, but the less than immaculate results did not distract me from the strongly conceived musical frame established by the conductor. I am glad I have a ticket for his Don Giovanni at the Met.

I had known Sally Matthews from recordings and the voice seemed rather colourless to me. Listening to her singing of the solo soprano part live, I found her voice far more imposing – creamy, spacious and floating – but the smokiness is hard to overlook. Although she can add some brightness to the high-lying phrases of Et incarnatus est, Mozart does require a more forward vocal production. That said, this is a singer with amazing technical finesse – she handled mezza voce, fioriture and trills adeptly and also has knowledge of classical style. She also possesses a remarkably strong low register. American mezzo Kate Lindsey almost stole the show – this is no short soprano, but a true mezzo with impressive control of high tessitura who handles coloratura with breathtaking precision. Both tenor and bass were more functional than inspiring, but Mozart himself was rather mean with possibilities for male singers here anyway.

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