Sunday, March 13, 2011

LATimes.Blogs: 'The Passion of Philip Glass' Benefits From 'the heartfelt work of soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme'

[COSTA MESA, CA MARCH 10, 2011: Soloist Janice Chandler-Eteme sings while Orange County Pacific Symphony conductor Carl St. Clair, conducts The Passion of Philip Glass at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Philip Glass: Passion of Ramakrishna, which includes solists and the Pacific Chorale. ( Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)]
Culture Monster
March 11, 2011
“The composer Philip Glass was on hand Thursday night for a pre-concert talk at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, and then turned up onstage with conductor Carl St.Clair to briefly introduce all three of his works on a program that repeats Friday and Saturday night called 'The Passion of Philip Glass.' Part of an ongoing monthlong Glass Festival in the Los Angeles area that includes the West Coast premiere of 'Akhnaten' by Long Beach Opera, the Costa Mesa event reprised a major late Glass work, 'The Passion of Ramakrishna,' that was premiered by the Pacific Symphony in 2006. An additional performance of 'Ramakrishna' alone is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

“The piece is a 40-minute choral and symphonic tribute to a simple Hindu holy man whose book, the 'Gospel of Ramakrishna,' greatly influenced the composer. Glass’ score movingly portrays the death and transformation of this 19th century Indian spiritual leader. In its quiet intensity and subtle scene painting, it shows Glass in his element as a theater composer. Since his early 20s, Glass, now 74, has composed 28 theater works. As each one became more daring and boldly expressive, the 'minimalist' label attached to Glass for so many years started to fray, if not quite fall off, especially after his striking 1976 breakthrough opera 'Einstein on the Beach.'

“'The Passion of Ramakrishna' is scored for a very large –- 110-plus –- chorus, full orchestra and five soloists, in small but potent parts. Yet Glass’ thoughtful orchestration and polytonal interweaving of voices, along with St.Clair’s and the Pacific Symphony’s care for balance and dynamics, maintained an intimate quality throughout. This touching 'Passion' also unfolded with memorable dignity thanks to the restrained singing and superb clarity of John Alexander’s Pacific Chorale, and the heartfelt work of soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme, baritone Christòpheren Nomura, bass Kevin Deas, mezzo-soprano I-Chin Feinblatt and tenor Nicholas Preston.

No comments: