Bach: Mass in B minor
Jerusalem Theater, June 8

Bach’s Mass in B minor is an ambitious undertaking for a student ensemble such as the Chamber Orchestra and Choir of the Franz Liszt Music Academy, Weimar, conducted by Konrad Junghanel.

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Nevertheless, they made courageous efforts to come to terms with the problematic acoustics of the Henry Crown Hall. It is possible that Junghanel placed the choir behind the orchestra, as is customary, because he did not have enough rehearsal time to familiarize himself with the hall’s drawbacks.

The choir consequently was mostly overshadowed by the orchestra, especially as the conductor concentrated his attention mainly on the orchestra without attempting to restrain its volume. As the work went on, however, the balance became fairly restored. In Et resurrexit (“He resurrected”) the choir broke out in irrepressible, ecstatic joy.

The orchestra’s many instrumental soli, performed with remarkable polish, were thoroughly enjoyable. So were the solo singers, positioned in front of the orchestra and whose appealing voices thus soared audibly over it.

The concluding Dona nobis pacem (“Give us peace”) sounded like a profoundly felt prayer. All’s well that ends well.

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