Meistermusik [original version of Masonic Funeral Music, K477]
Piano Concerto No.21 in C, K467
Requiem, K626 [completed by Süssmayr]
Stephen Hough (piano)
Jodie Devos (soprano), Jennifer Johnson Cano (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Stenson (tenor) & Ryan Speedo Green (bass-baritone)
Concert Chorale of New York
Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski
Reviewed: 10 August, 2018
Venue: David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City
In the penultimate concert of this year’s Mostly Mozart Festival, Louis Langrée opened with Meistermusik, a somber and austerely beautiful piece for male chorus and orchestra, composed for a Masonic installation ceremony during 1785, Mozart’s most active year as a Freemason. Langrée drew a calmly touching account, with twenty choristers intoning the Gregorian plainchant ‘Replevit me amaritudinibus inebriavit me absynthio’ (He filled me with bitter herbs, and made me drunk with wormwood) from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, in octaves with oboes and clarinets. When, a few months later, Mozart adapted the piece as Masonic Funeral Music, he omitted the chorus.
Also from 1785 but in a more lyrical vein was Stephen Hough’s eloquent, fresh and graceful rendition of the C-major Piano Concerto, its slow movement so memorably used in the 1967 film Elvira Madigan. Hough’s delicate and stylish playing enriched the opening Allegro maestoso, taken at a brisk but comfortable pace. He then brought dignity, intelligence and poetic feeling to the exquisite Andante, in which he received expressive support from Langrée, the strings offering especially ravishing contributions, and the spirited Finale had an appropriately robust quality with plenty of sparkle. Hough provided his own playfully inventive cadenzas in the outer movements.
For the Requiem the forty-five-member chorus, seated in mixed formation, sang with richness and eloquence. A youthful team of vocal soloists, placed behind the orchestra, made an excellent team, their characterfully contrasted voices blending together nicely. Ryan Speedo Green’s full and distinctive bass-baritone was a standout, as was the angelic almost childlike soprano of Jodie Devos, and the orchestra was well-balanced, fresh and direct throughout this earnest if less than fully powerful performance.