In performance: Choralis's "Elijah"
Choralis closes tenth season with stirring, if blurry, "Elijah"
by Joan Reinthaler
In ten years Choralis, the semi-professional local chorus, has grown from an ensemble of three dozen to more than 100 singers. On Saturday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church the chorus, along with a hefty orchestra and a quartet of soloists, concluded their tenth anniversary season with a performance of Mendelssohn's "Elijah" that spotlighted memorable moments of great beauty and drama over a background of generalized warmth.
Conductor Gretchen Kuhrmann wisely pared off seven movements of the oratorio, which allowed it to fit neatly into a two-hour package. She found brisk pacing for Mendelssohn's Victorian sweetness, and marshaled the sprawling piece into a coherent story. In that hall, when accompanied by an orchestra full of brass, few of the chorus's words or attacks could be heard; but they did come through in segments with lighter accompaniment, such as “Lift Thine Eyes” and “Cast Thy Burden." And even through the blur, the singers did project the longing and joy, anger and fear of the Israelite and Baal-worshiping mobs.
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The most dramatic moments came in bits: in the pure weightless singing of soprano Kyra Klontz (a high school student) as the youth sent out to watch for an approaching rain cloud; in the cello solo that accompanies the aria "It Is Enough"; and in the singing of seven full-voiced women who blew everyone away with the energy of their cries of "Holy, Holy, Holy."
Tenor Dennys Moura handled the twin roles of Obadiah and Ahab with a fine sense of drama and timing. As angels, both soprano Danielle Talamantes and mezzo-soprano Grace Gori projected authority but might have done so with more subtlety. And baritone Kerry Wilkerson had the comforting and pleading side of Elijah down cold but never did muster the vocal and dramatic energy to make Elijah's anger convincing.
-- Joan Reinthaler
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