But at times when the full complement of symphony-soloist-chorus came together for dense passages of music, power drained from the performance. The choir lagged behind the deep percussion groove. But the groove is not a gimmick, and when the percussion gelled under the textured, melismatic choral writing, the music came alive.
The ASO Chamber Chorus returned at the end of the evening for a glorious performance of Bach’s Cantata No. 80, “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.” Superlatively navigating dense polyphony in the first movement, the Chamber Chorus again proved they endure as one of the ASO’s greatest treasures. While the chorus and soloists were outstanding, tenor David Walton, who possesses a sublime, lithe vocal grain, stood out.
Bach’s cantata is music written for worship. Kurth’s work is spiritual as well, operating from the idea that, as he wrote in performance notes, “we are all captive to our flawed nature, we are all unfaithful, we all doubt, and we all betray our better selves” and exploring how to maintain a strong moral compass.
Calling Kurth a new composer feels unfair. The ASO has been commissioning his symphonic works for years, but the symphony has focused its season on premiering, and polishing and refining, Kurth’s large-ensemble work. This celebration of its composer-in-residence is also preparation. In May, the ASO will reconvene in a Symphony Hall to digitize 10 Kurth compositions over four recording sessions for release on the ASO Media label next year.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus
8 p.m. March 22. Additional performance at 8 p.m. March 24. $97. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-733-5000, www.atlantasymphony.org.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on November 27. Since then, the world has been anxiously awaiting their wedding day. The couple met in London in July 2016 and confirmed their relationship that November. Harry and Markle will tie the knot on May 19, 2018. They will hold their wedding ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England. Prince William will be Harry's best man and the wedding will be televised around the world.