If Los Angeles is indeed undergoing a cultural renaissance, the strength of that renaissance is seen in the level of excellence in the great multitude of regional choirs. Among the very best stand the Pasadena Master Chorale, under the direction of Jeffrey Bernstein. Under his direction, the PMC has blossomed into one of the finest choirs in the Los Angeles Metro area. A rich choral tone, exquisite blend, and careful nuance made the sound of the chorale both satisfying and effective.
The choir of sixty-seven voices under Bernstein’s expressive and sensitive direction presented a concert of music from the English church, from both Anglican and Latin-Rite Catholic wings. Included in the concert was music from a four-hundred-year span of English sacred music, from Orlando Gibbons to Benjamin Britten.
The notably relaxed and unforced tone of the singers, and their stunning blend, were laid bare by the fairly dry acoustic of the Altadena Community Church’s worship space, which, while possessing a kind of measured resonance, offers no cover for flaws in a choir’s blend. And the Pasadena Master Chorale needed none.
Bernstein’s brief but densely informative allocutions seemed just the right length for his audience and the average concertgoer, if a tad too brief for the more musically- informed.
Highlights of the concert were surely the Kyrie from Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor, expertly negotiated by the choir; Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, resounded a short cantata setting a portion of the poem Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart (1722–1771), surely one of the most stunningly original—if not entirely sane—works of the English Classical period.
Two anthems by Thomas Weelkes, Hosanna to the Son of David and When David Heard, made a contrasting pair of works from the English Renaissance in six voices…
[Part of this review was lost due to a file error. We’ll amend this post once the text is recovered.]
Pasadena Master Chorale; Jeffrey Bernstein, Director; James Walker, Organ
“At the English Cathedral” Saturday June 9, 2018 Altadena Community Church