Master Chorale of South Florida delivers music, sacred and profane, in exciting fashion

By Peter James Learn

Brett Karlin led the Master Chorale of South Florida in Orff'a "Carmina Burana" Friday night in Pompano Beach.

Brett Karlin led the Master Chorale of South Florida in Orff’s “Carmina Burana” Friday night in Pompano Beach.

The Master Chorale of South Florida offered up a well-contrasted program of music, both sacred and profane, Friday night at Pompano Beach’s First Presbyterian Church.

The concert opened with selections from Gustav Holst’s Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda. The British composer was intensely interested in Indian texts and music, an inspiration evident in several of his works from the first decades of the 20th century.

Artistic director Brett Karlin and associate conductor Kyle Nielsen alternated conducting the movements and the chorale ably navigated Holst’s challenging, late-Romantic harmonies and evocative references to raga music, especially apparent in “Hymn to Soma.”

Carl Orff’s celebrated Carmina Burana is based on the text of an 11th-13th century mélange of secular poetry and Goliard satires of the Catholic Church. Instead of the familiar orchestral scoring of Burana, the chorale opted to use the Orff-sanctioned two piano/percussion sextet arrangement created by his pupil Wilhelm Killmayer.

University of Miami pianists Jared Peroune and Paul Schwartz, as well as Svet Stoyanov and members of the university’s percussion studio, deftly stood in for Orff’s formidable orchestra. The instrumental “Tanz,” in particular, showcased this group’s abilities, featuring Peroune, Schwartz, and Stoyanov in a lively and rhythmic trio. In bombastic passages such as the “O Fortuna” and the “Ave foromosissima” the spare ensemble also did their best to bring an orchestral sound to their performance.

Overall, the challenging fare was quite well-performed by the Master Chorale and colleagues. There were fleeting issues with ensemble tempo shifts and articulations, and the tongue-twisting text of “In taberna” caught out a few of the members of the men’s choir. But the general quality of the concert was high and one could tell that much hard work went into this polished and well-crafted performance.

The soloists brought their considerable talents to bear throughout the work. Baritone Graham Fandrei, in particular, displayed an expressive talent. His feigned pomposity and satirical tone in “Ego sum abbas” effectively conveyed the cynicism of the text and his rendition of the falsetto passages in “Dies, nox et omnia” was as natural and as smooth as the rest of his performance.

Soprano Teresa Wakim’s fluid lines and effortless command of her high register made for impressive passages in “Amor” and a wonderful arietta in the short and lyrical “Dulcissime.” Tenor David Pereira convincingly evoked the tense anxiety of the roasting swan with his solo in “Olim lacus colueram.”

The Girl Choir of South Florida displayed impressive corporate talent and musical maturity. Their execution in tutti sections such as the “Ecce gratum” kept pace with the chorale’s gymnastic passagework. They also acquitted themselves well in their duet with Wakim in the sweet and expressive “Amor volat undique.” “Chramer, gip die varwe mir” also featured the choir heavily, although their pure-toned, tranquil coda was marred by a thoughtless concertgoer’s loud and none-too-quickly-silenced ringtone.

The program will be repeated 8 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami and 4 p.m. Sunday at Lynn University’s Wold Performing Arts Center in Boca Raton. 

Posted in Performances

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Sat Feb 21, 2015
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