Classical review: Mozart Mass

Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Picture: Donald MacLeod
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WHEN an artist calls off sick, it’s unfortunate. We wish them well and accept that a last-minute substitute has to be found. With Scots soprano Lisa Milne, this has been happening with such frequency over the past decade it was no surprise at all when news came through last Thursday that she would not be appearing with the SCO. I suspect that anyone booking her these days does so with a back-up plan in mind.

Mozart Mass - City Halls, Glasgow

****

Milne’s place was taken by the highly-animated Ruby Hughes, who linked up with fellow soprano Elizabeth Watts, tenor Andrew Staples and baritone Stephan Loges as soloists in Mozart’s unfinished Mass in C minor, the main item on a programme that began with the weird ephemeral sound world of Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov and Mozart’s Symphony No 40.

There was an obvious logic in including the Silvestrov. He takes music by Mozart, diffuses it within a cloud of clustered harmonies, and wraps it in a wash of (eventually irritating) electronic noise – like listening to Mozart underwater with bad reception. Estonian conductor Olari Elts used it as a subliminal preamble to the symphony, segueing one into the other.

The real Mozart was red-hot; Elts taking it briskly, but allowing every ounce of orchestral detail to surface with golden clarity and rich personality. The Mass was equally riveting; the SCO Chorus, if a little underpowered, matching the orchestra in lustre and precision, and complementing the theatrical expressiveness and individuality of the soloists with homogenous stability.

Seen on 04.04.14