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Archive for August 19th, 2010

Louis Langree and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall

by Sam Juliano

     The dynamic Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and the vibrant veteran French conductor Louis Langree performed an all-Mozart venue on the evening of Saturday, August 14 to a wildly enthusiastic sold-out crowd at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.  Langree and Finnish pianist Antti Siirala performed three of the composer’s most beloved works with Symphony No. 25 in G minor, Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K.466, and Symphony No. 40 in G minor K.550 to a crowd largely composed of summer tourists and festival faithful at the renowned concert hall standing across the courtyard from the Metropolitan Opera House and the New York State Theatre.

     Siirala received four curtain calls for his spirited reading of the piano concerto, one of the greatest of all classical compositions.  In 1784, at the peak of his fame in Vienna as composer and pianist, Mozart composed no fewer than six immortal piano concertos for his insatiable public, one of the most “spoiled” audiences in history, at least rivaling  J.S. Bach’s Sunday morning congregations at St. Thomas’ Church.  Mozart, buoyed by the success of his piano work, decided to embark on a new concerto, more personal in expression than any of its predecessors.  The first Mozart concerto written in a minor key is assessed by musicologist C. M. Girdlestone in his classic study of the concertos as a work to stir the soul, specifically the emotions: “the story here becomes more stirring and more full of color, and there enters into it a sense of adventure and heroism, hitherto unexperienced.”  The work includes a mysterious, sycopated throb of violin opening, and segues into the timbre of menacing bass, eventually giving way to the piano as a lonely protagonist with a plantive new theme.  Throughout this musically dazzling opening movement Mozart preserves a sense of antagonism between piano and orchestra, avoiding blended ensemble writing for them.  The cadenza that concludes this movement was not written by Mozart (who never wrote one) but by Beethoven, who added it years after Mozart’s death. (more…)

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