Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mozart and Haydn

There were a number of churches around London offering concerts last night, but this one titled "Couple or Clash? St John's Smith Square" is the one that attracted my attention because the "Smith Square" part meant I could figure out where it was and the "Couple or Clash?" part meant that they were performing choral pieces by Mozart and Haydn. The advertised truism is that Mozart would upstage Haydn. This did not happen. Haydn's Teresienmesse was the hit of the evening.

If you could call it that. It was an odd experience that could lead one to caution about concert attendance. The London Orpheus Choir did a decent job with the Haydn mass and with the Vesperae Solennes de Confescore of Mozart which opened the program. This includes the Mozart hit tune "Laudate Dominum" sung capably by Jacqueline Pischorn, soprano. This number was the only thing on the program that could be called a vocal solo--everything else was in the symphonic style where the soloists appear as a quartet. They deserve having their names mentioned: Margaret Rapacioli, alto, Austin Prunell-Friend, tenor and Leslie MacLeod-Miller, bass. The conducting by James Gaddarn was also quite respectable. I would like to hear the mezzo again in another context--let us say opera.

So what is the controversy? The entire evening was accompanied by the London Orpheus Orchestra, and more out of tune violins I can only recall from my days as a substitute teacher. The Haydn mass was the most effective because the chorus and soloists more effectively distracted the attention from the violins. It was tooth grindingly horrible.

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