Opus 7, one of the most esteemed musical groups anywhere, has little interest in musical trinkets of the season, at least this year. At its annual Christmas concert Sunday night at St James Cathedral, the vocal ensemble looked to Mendelssohn as well as Einojuhani Rautavaara and Georg Schumann instead. All proved to be fascinating.
Generally devoted to new music of the area, Opus 7′s founding artistic director Loren Ponten chose to complete the group’s Mendelssohn cycle this past weekend with two works, separated by nearly a decade: “Magnificat,” composed at the remarkable age of 13, and “Vom Himmel hoch” (“From Heaven on High”)… The group’s reading was variable in its effects. “Von Himmel hoch” (“From Heaven on High”) was on a more even keel and thus ultimately more satisfying.
…Opus 7 treated [Georg Schumann’s “Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her”] with careful balances, textural clarity and an assured sense of the urgency of the text.