There was some irony in Kazimierz Kord's penultimate appearances as principal guest conductor of the Pacific Symphony this week in Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Apparently, just when the orchestra--a fine collection of instrumentalists too often operating as an ad-hoc ensemble in the decade of its existence--begins to come together as a cohesive musical unit, Kord, one of the leaders responsible for the higher level of the orchestra's playing in recent seasons, is ending his tenure here in May. The conductor from Warsaw has promised to return to the Pacific Symphony in future seasons, but is not scheduled for an appearance in 1990-91.
The Wednesday-night performance--first of two devoted to a Mozart/Bruckner program--revealed admirable ensemble achievement through tight balances, strong and unified playing from each of the orchestra's several choirs and integrated solo lines.
And, in this inspired pairing of Mozart's Requiem and Bruckner's "Te Deum," Kord produced long-breathed musical lines of undeniable logic and apprehensibility, as well as the kind of spiritual refreshment that comes from total immersion in the music at hand.
Kord had clearly prepared the orchestra, as well as the 120-member Pacific Chorale, in the many mechanical intricacies of these works. More important, he stressed textual values as buttressed by musical ones.
The combined ensembles performed at the top of their respective forms. The instrumental body has seldom seemed so pliable and responsive to a conductor's urgings. And the chorale made handsome, controlled sounds and delivered words, for once, as if they not only understood, but meant them.
Mozart's sometimes diffuse Requiem unfolded inexorably, in a reading full of inner strengths and clear detail. Each succeeding movement related irresistibly to what had gone before; tempo relationships and dynamic contrasts seemed to grow out of the texts. Similar virtues materialized in Bruckner's masterpiece, which emerged passionately stated by both ensembles.
Except for musical weakness at the bottom, the solo quartet met most of the vocal requirements adequately.
Soprano Carla Perez revealed a spinto voice of considerable quality that she uses well and musically; mezzo Christine Meadows made the most of her many opportunities; tenor Paul Johnson (substituting for Michael Fiacco) performed solidly. Only bass Mel Whitehead seemed overparted and distracted by the challenges he faced.