More Moses reviews

Two additional Moses und Aron reviews. The Boston Herald review is effusive: Levine’s Moses is stunning, honest to God. T.J. Medrek writes, “But head and shoulders above all was the visceral, virtuoso performance of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Called upon to whisper, growl, shout and, yes, even sing, portraying everything from the Voice of God speaking to Moses, from a Burning Bush to orgiastic revelers worshiping a Golden Calf, the chorus excelled and reveled in each unusual opportunity.”

Contrast with this insightful post from Matthew Guerrieri at Soho the Dog, This is Cinerama:

The mob took a while to come into focus. The biggest casualty of a concert, as opposed to a staged, performance of Moses is the protean character of the chorus. In their first big scene, rumors of possible liberation race through the people, factions form and dissolve, and conventional wisdoms are settled upon and then cast aside. With the chorus a massed block at the back of the stage, Schoenberg’s careful delineation of the desperation and fickleness of each requisite group was largely a wash. Hearing the Tanglewood Festival Chorus this past summer in Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder, my sense was that they were struggling to adjust to Levine’s minimalist, undemonstrative conducting style. That uncertainty seemed evident in the first act of Moses as well; thrilling sounds (particularly from the women) were in abundance, but so were lagging tempi and blurry rhythms. But a few minutes into Act II, everything clicked into place, and the chorus suddenly began to peal forth. Their cry of “Juble, Israel” (“Rejoice, Israel”) at the initial appearance of the Golden Calf was filled with a sure beauty as well as a chilling fanaticism.

Who’s right, TJ or Matthew? If I’m honest I have to say Matthew. There were quite a few small glitches in the chorus, which are perhaps attributable to the cause Matthew suggests as much as to the incredible difficulty of the writing.

It’s an interesting point-counterpoint. While the review in the Herald does an excellent job of conveying the overall impression of the concert, Matthew gives a far closer reading and identifies both the true strengths and weaknesses of the performance. A good example of the value of blogs from focused individuals to dig deeply into unfamiliar subjects and provide more valuable coverage.