Thursday, May 24, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Amadeus rocks the Straz in Florida Orchestra concert

TAMPA — All Mozart all the time was the theme of guest conductor Xian Zhang's program with the Florida Orchestra on Friday. She gave an impressive account of the unfinished Requiem, deploying almost 200 voices from the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the USF Chamber Singers in luxurious but dynamic fashion, her broad tempos never slackening or losing the musical line.

Zhang's performance was enhanced by the vocal quartet, which was excellent, especially the rock-solid soprano, Nadine Sierra, and bass-baritone Gerard Michael D'Emilio, who called on "the trumpet, sending its wondrous sound" (actually, a trombone) in the Tuba mirum with thrilling stentorian heft. The vast chorus, prepared by Master Chorale artistic director James K. Bass, delivered a crisp, nimble reading of the Latin text of the funeral mass, with the Handelian double fugue of the Kyrie being notably well defined.

Mozart, as all fans of Amadeus know, died while working on the Requiem and left it to his pupil Sussmayr to complete. Until a few measures into the Lacrymosa, the work is essentially by Mozart, but after that things get sketchy. From the Sanctus on it is the Sussmayr Requiem, except for the Lux aeterna and Cum sanctis, which resurrect music from the beginning of the mass and the Kyrie.

Friday's concert, which drew a crowd of about 1,600 to Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, also included Mozart's jewel of a funeral motet Ave verum corpus and his D Major Symphony, Haffner, named for a mayor of Salzburg and the first of the composer's last six great symphonies. Zhang took a brisk pace that made the symphony seem over almost before it started, fairly bursting into the finale that Mozart said should "go as fast as possible."

Delius in Florida: The Florida Orchestra and Master Chorale had a triumph when they performed music by Frederick Delius for a Naxos recording released last fall. The British composer had a close Florida connection, having lived on his family's citrus plantation outside Jacksonville in the 19th century. Now a Delius work makes up the score of a new film, The Florida Suite, which is showing at the Sunscreen Film Festival. Directed by Jeff Thompson, the 41-minute film documents the life of retired lawyer Andrew Graham (Thompson's father) on a Brevard County citrus farm. Delius' four-movement symphonic suite is heard in its entirety and is a perfect match with the beauty of the Florida landscape. The film screens at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Muvico BayWalk 20, 151 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $5.

John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716.

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