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Subject: Met Requiem
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 25 Nov 2017 11:42:29 -0500

text/plain (63 lines)

I heard the performance on Sirius last night - I'd be very interested to get any opinions 
from anyone in-house.

I think this was a case of "the whole is better than the sum of its parts" and "the end 
justifies the means," as the "Libera Me" was one of the highlights of the performance. 
There were certainly good moments and good performances all around, but also enough 
glitches to wonder if the occasion (the first public performance, the dedication to 
Hvorostovsky, etc) distracted a bit from the music making. There were quite a few 
moments of ensemble coordination and of intonation that were truly off - things that may 
and can certainly be fixed over the following week (I'm hoping that next week's Saturday 
matinee comes off much better). 

In general, the chorus and the orchestra were in top form. And although I don't feel that 
Levine was on his best game, he did bring out things in the orchestration at times that 
put his own wonderful personal stamp on things. (One moment that really stood out to 
me was the solo quartet of bassoons toward the beginning of the "Libera Me" - right 
before the "tremens factus sum ego" section - there was an attack and presence here 
that may have not quite been Verdi's pianissimo marking, but certainly highlighted the 
odd and eerie sound of the passage in a way I had never heard before. Quite cool.)

The soloists were uneven - no way around that. The women were the highlight, but 
Stoyanova (soprano) could at times be too light, and I did hear occasional lacks of 
intonation from Semenchuk (mezzo) - though to their credit, the "Agnus Dei" was 
beautifully done. Their "Recordare" was also quite wonderful, when pitch was centered - 
but who the fuck was the idiot who had to ruin the moment with a "brava!!!!!!!" right 
after the duet? 

(On the subject of audience reaction, though - again, I don't know if this was prompted 
by anything visual, such as a gesture by Levine, but oh, that long silence at the end of 
the evening did seem to linger on forever...which was very moving.)

I have always been a fan of Furlanetto, but oh, I think the voice is truly showing signs of 
age now. He's still a wonderful interpreter, but there were times when I wondered if he 
just had as much control to do what he wanted to do. I still enjoyed him a lot, though.

But, the "control" issue brings me to Antonenko, who just has none, IMO. Maybe he 
wasn't feeling well - I don't know. He can shout a Bb with the rest of 'em, lol, but his 
attempts to sing quietly mostly failed (the struggle with the "Hostias" being almost 
unlistenable). He just doesn't have a natural instrument for this piece. It can't just be 
about the high notes, which were big where the needed to be (in the ensembles). The 
exposed solo moments, where expression and flexibility are so necessary, were just not 
good at all.

So - a mixed bag of a performance IMO, but still one that worked into a triumph by the 
end. And, because the chorus was clearly ON their game, the movements which featured 
them were the highlights. Including a truly joyous "Sanctus," and that "Libera Me" with its  
bravura a cappella reiteration of the Requiem's opening music...and that final huge climax 
before the quiet end, which for me is one of the most irresistably moving moments in the 
piece. In the chorus' perfect sense of attack and ensemble in that final build, you could 
sense that everyone felt the same about that music as I do.  

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