Mozart's "Great" Mass in C Minor, K. 417a, is having a banner year with several fine performances this season. Friday, the Capitol Hill Chorale, under conductor James L. Turk, took up the flag, centering on the music's luminescence and ebullience and letting its wrenching solemnity speak for itself. The chorus delivered Mozart's contrapuntal onslaughts with energy and purpose, the sections clearly listening to each other. Only the opening Kyrie disappointed, missing that certain punch from piercing entrances that nail you to the wall. Perhaps the acoustics of St. Joseph's Church--the reverberance of its handsome Gothic vaulting--made enunciation difficult, especially in opening consonances.
The chorus and orchestra sounded less secure in Mozart's slightly earlier "Vesperae Solennes de Confessore," K. 339.
In both works, the vocal soloists gave the evening a particular splendor. Sopranos Rosa Lamoreaux and Leigh Ann Peterson (in the Mass), mezzo Alison Turk (in the Vespers), tenor Michael Ford and bass Kerry Wilkerson were well matched and resonant in both ensembles and solos. Lamoreaux's radiant depths, focused sound and sensitive inflections gave the well-known "Laudate Dominum" of the Vespers a perfect balance of consolation and luster. In the Mass, she repeatedly demonstrated perfect control in sustaining long lines--including the most florid ones--and evenness in Mozart's wild leaps of register.