Chorale sets musical tone for Lent
By Frank Merkling
NEWS-TIMES ARTS CRITIC
NEWTOWN The Connecticut Master Chorale, in its second concert, packed St. Rose of Lima
Catholic Church yesterday with two works that paved the way for Lent, three days off.
Tina Johns Heidrich chose the "Te Deum" of Anton Bruckner (1886) and "To Hope!" by Dave
Brubeck of Wilton (1979), written about a century apart, for the same forces by composers
whose names share six letters.
The Bruckner showed this maestra's pride in displaying what her singers can do.
Loud and majestic first and last, it was sung clearly all the way to those final,
killing high A's the sopranos must sustain making one think not of Wagner, Bruckner's
idol, but of the Beethoven "Choral" Symphony.
The soloists were mezzo-soprano Cynthia McCorkindale and tenor Mark Beams, she
tremulous and reedy in such high-lying music and he erratic but vibrant in lines that
brought "Lohengrin" to mind.
The "Te Deum" benefited from Heidrich's demanding standards and peremptory beat, which
brook no lagging or sloppiness. It makes its pitch to the converted, not the skeptic.
Brubeck's "To Hope!," on the other hand, proselytizes through its winning ways with
crossover material. At the work's first performance in the area, a listener found it more
successful than Bernstein's overambitious "Mass" of 1971.
Here, both soloists appeared to greater effect in their own language and in a more
familiar idiom the jazzman's gift for melody and instrumental color.
Moving from plainsong-like modality to rapture with a punch, Brubeck along the way
touches on Israeli and Latino dance, his own "Take Five," a pandiatonic climax at "Holy,
Holy, Holy," New Testament monologues, contrapuntal piano (played by Joseph Jacovino Jr.)
, wonderful saxophone solos (played by Jacovino's daughter Sara) and a "Lord's Prayer"
that may put an end to Alfred Hay Mallotte's.
The 17-piece orchestra was in fine shape, particularly the busy percussion section, and
the choristers sang brilliantly.
Let's hear the Brubeck again.