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Music Reviews : Mozart Concert Fails to Rise Over Problems

Times Staff Writer

The closet-like acoustics of Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College proved the most disconcerting aspect of a Mozart program Saturday night by the Orange Coast Chorale, the Orange Coast Singers and a pick-up orchestra, all conducted by Richard Raub.

Still, problems accumulated in direct proportion to the complexity of the music. Opening with “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” a sturdy little piece by the 12-year-old composer in which the voices and the tympani volley with a youthful aggressiveness, the 34-member Orange Coast Singers made a vigorous and rewardingly full sound.

“Misericordias Domini,” a much more elaborate, show-off work that Mozart wrote 7 years later in an attempt to get the Elector of Bavaria to hire him, generally came though crisply and cleanly. But the tenor voices drained away in a wimpy way and the group as a whole had difficulty shifting from one dynamic range to another, tending to confuse softness with a stunted, muffled quality.

In the Violin Concerto in G of the same year, soloist Kathleen Lenski--who holds the post of co-concertmaster with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra--delivered a fluid, muscular reading of the two allegro movements and a lyrical, expressive clarity in the Adagio that still fell short of the “ardor” Raub mentioned in his excellent program notes. The orchestra faded away virtually into nothingness in that second movement, returning at a businesslike trot in the ebullient rondo finale.

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The “Coronation” Mass in C, composed when Mozart was 23 and just a couple of years from his final, masterpiece-studded decade, was sung by the 102-member Orange Coast Chorale. Despite clean attacks and cutoffs and good balance among the voices, the singing lacked a consistently well-nourished tone.

Of the four soloists--also including mezzo-soprano Karen Anacker (who was nearly inaudible), tenor Steven Dunham and bass Hector Vasquez--soprano Katherine Peters had the largest contribution. Her pretty voice was nearly done in by hesitant attacks, a vibrato with a warbling edge and a bland, rote treatment of the text.


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