Clarity and musical intelligence

Apr 29, 2017

On Sunday, a surreal pianissimo floating through the room opens the concert by the MDR symphony orchestra and radio choir: the programme features works by Mozart. His motet “Ave Verum Corpus” serves as contemplative start. Conductor Risto Joost awakens the sounds of the choir and orchestra with his flowing movements and gives form to the music through the tiniest changes in these flowing movements. These five minutes alone demonstrate the many dynamic nuances of the award-winning choir, supported by the orchestra. The following “Jupiter” symphony combines Mozart’s ease with flutes and violins with penetrating power in the Tutti. Joost stands as the musical centre. He is absorbed by the music, but at the same time never loses control of his musicians. They willingly respond to and follow every small gesture, because he does not force his way of reading the score onto them, but rather invites them to perform the music together. The high woodwind players in the allegro vivace are remarkable in their agility during their short interjections interpolations?. The second movement is characterised by the “Cantabile”. The woodwind melodies and strings melt into one unified flow and then go their own separate ways again in the middle part, when the strings perform the swelling ostinato and the melody line is carried by the woodwind. After a playful and dance-like start into the minuet with majestic interjections interpolations? of brass, Joost – with grand gestures – generates a great deal of vigour and splendour in the finale. At the same time, with his precision he prevents the orchestra from rushing during rapid movements. With his own expansive movements he allows himself to be carried through the molto allegro. In the second part of the concert, Mozart’s mass in c-minor, the choir shines again. The mighty “Kyrie” fills the hall, in the face of which Elisabeth Breuer has to assert herself. However, in the “Christe Eleison” her clear soprano bursts into bloom, its slightly metallic heights easily rising above both choir and orchestra. The “Gloria” is a melodic explosion of all the various voices, during which the choir displays its full volume and admirable flexibility in the forte. Soloist Diana Haller in “Laudamus te” presents her warm mezzo and with impressive speed moves through the coloraturas. The contrast of her voice and deep-throated timbre lend carrying fullness to her and the stable middle register does not diminish the metallic heights. In demanding embellishments and great leaps peppered with intervals she allows her voice to shine with a confidence that is rooted in experience. After a splendid choir in “Gratias”, Breuer and Haller establish two poles of sound with a bright soprano and deep mezzo in “Domine”, but then blend completely into one through similar tones in the higher realms before excelling each other in the swift coloratura. Above the ostinato of the strings and after the “Miserere”, the choir brings the height of the piano crescendo into bloom and then passes into an effortless forte. Joost knows his singers: he is aware of which button to push in order to create this kind of balanced sound. In the home straight, the “Benedictus”, tenor Benedikt Kristjansson and bass Thomas Tatzl complete the ensemble of soloists and establish a strong male counterpart to the female voices. Joost balances the instrumental and vocal voices dynamically, with clarity and musical intelligence, and so creates a homogenous sound. In coloratura cascades, the soloists and the choir pick up pace and unleash a stunning forte in the finale – one which deserved a more enthusiastic response from the audience in the well-attended Large Hall.