Arthur Kaptainis, Musical Toronto. Much of tale of the wicked Babylonian king is told in choral fortissimo, and it was a credit to all the participants – numbering almost 200, if my count is accurate — that words were often clear enough to be understood without the support of the printed text. Brass were hearty, strings full of fire. Percussion had a field day with the false gods of gold, silver, iron, wood, stone and brass. The RTH organ added impressively to the climactic (but entirely vain) accreditation of Belshazzar as “King of Kings.”
Dave Richards, Toronto Concert Reviews. The combined forces of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Huddersfield Choral Society from Leeds, England rocked the house with a tremendously powerful choral sound. Their hushed voices were heart-wrenching as they sang about the humiliation of the Jewish slaves.
The Gloria by Francis Poulenc (1899 -1963) was commissioned by the Koussevitsky Music Foundation and first performed in 1961 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch. It was dedicated to the memory of Nathalie and Serge Koussevitsky, a former Music Director of the BSO. To many, the work seemed irreverent – this ancient sacred text from the Mass being treated frivolously with wit and humour. But what they failed to catch was Poulenc’s interpretation of liturgical joy as a swirl of musical colour and dancing rhythms.