Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Orchestra, Chorus Share Honors

Cleveland Press April 3, 1964

There are amazing contrasts in the program that Associate Conductor Robert Shaw has assembled for this week's Thursday-Saturday concerts at Severance Hall.

Prior to intermission are two relatively short concerti for violin and small orchestra -- Vivaldi's Concerto No. 8 and Bach's Concerto No. 2. Following the intermission comes the grandeur of Honegger's Symphonic Psalm,"King David," featuring the full- orchestra, 200-voice chorus, four soloists and narrator.

DANIEL MAJESKE, assistant concertmaster, made his debut as assisting artist in this series of concerts last night. His playing is no-nonsense fiddling of a high order. Both performances were tasteful and sensitive. Neither work lends itself to romantic fervor and Majeske rightfully interpreted them with restraint.

The Vivaldi work was also notable for the excellent bass accompaniment of cellist Jules Eskin.

The Honegger composition is a form of oratorio based on the Psalms. A narrator explains the action, a device at once dramatic and helpful. Don Craig, music professor at Ithaca College, admirably handled that task.

THE QUARTET of excellent soloists consists of soprano Margaret Hauptmann (who replaced the previously announced singer just a few days ago), contralto Dorothy Neff, tenor Seth McCoy and baritone John Dietz.

Without taking anything away from the fine work of the orchestra and soloists, the evening belonged to Shaw and his painstakingly prepared chorus. Theirs is a performance that is alive to every emotion in this richly varied work.

There are moments of lyric beauty, contrasting bits of music with a martial fervor, the color and richness of Hebraic sounds as, for example, when the daughters of Israel wail their lament.

EXCITING and moving is the funereal sound of the chorus as it sings the lament of David and Bathsheba following the death of their child -- "Pity me, God, in my distress! Turn not away, but heal me again!"

The work closes with a magnificent and moving "Alleluia" that begins in quiet, Iyric beauty and builds to a resounding, exciting climax.

In addition to tomorrow's second performance of this concert at Severance Hall, the Honegger work and the Vivaldi concerto will be included in the program of the West Shore Concert to be performed Sunday at 3 p.m. at Lakewood Civic Auditorium.