[image-1]From music cricic Lindsay Koob:
Joseph Flummerfelt and his sprawling vocal-orchestral musical forces posted the latest in a long string of Spoleto triumphs Monday night at the Gaillard. I’ve never heard a finer concert performance of Mozart’s “Great” Mass in C Minor. The combined singers of the Westminster Choir and Charleston Symphony Chorus were dead-on, producing great gushes of sonorous sound where needed, along with clear vocal textures, ultra-clean diction, and tight choral precision. Even in the busy double choral fugues, you could follow every part.
The soloists were terrific. Superstar mezzo Jennifer Larmore astounded as she tossed off her fiendishly tricky soprano II part. Her rich tone and vocal agility showed a true diva at work. At soprano I, she had an ideal partner in Ellie Dehn (she subbed for R&J star Nicole Cabell on short notice), who’s also singing Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. Her high notes had spines atingle throughout the Gaillard. The men – tenor Steven Tharp and Bass Rosendo Flores – didn’t have a whole lot to sing compared to the ladies, but sounded fine when they did.
The evening’s second half was built around Larmore, who delivered the melting solos of Johannes Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody against the shimmering textures of men’s voices. Hearing them was like taking a bath in warm honey. Then she proceeded to blow us away with two spectacular bel canto arias from the operas of Bellini and Rossini – roles that helped make her famous. Backing her up were the singers of the WC, this time by themselves. Our thunderous ovation earned us an encore: a funny operetta aria – “Art is Calling to Me,” by Victor Herbert.
I spoke with several members of the chorus afterwards. Even as a member of a huge chorus, you know when everything’s coming together to create rare musical magic. One of the indicators was Dr. Flummerfelt’s happy podium presence – ’cause you know when he’s smiling, he’s getting what he wants. And while we couldn’t see his face from the audience, his musicians assured me that he smiled a lot Monday night. And so did we.