Parent Category: Other Festivals
Published on Tuesday, 09 August 2016 22:24
Written by Jack Angstreich
The first week of this year’s Mostly Mozart Festival featured at least one fine evening of music, on Friday, July 29th, at the superb Alice Tully Hall, promising pleasures to come. (The program had been played the night before and then was repeated the following evening.)
The delights of this festival include excellent pre-concert recitals as a bonus — in this case, the main program was preceded by an accomplished performance of the extraordinary Piano Quartet in E-flat major of Mozart, the second of his two essays in that genre. The musicians included Ruggero Allifranchini — the concertmaster of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra — on violin, Shmuel Katz on viola, and Ilya Finkelshteyn on cello, but most remarkable was the sensitive playing of the celebrated Leif Ove Andsnes on piano, the soloist for the concert proper.
A wonderful chamber arrangement by George Benjamin — last year’s composer-in-residence for the festival — of a Canon & Fugue from Johann Sebastian Bach’s great swan song, The Art of the Fugue, opened the program played by the Festival Orchestra under the able direction of Louis Langrée, who stressed the focus on counterpoint in Mozart’s oeuvrein remarks before the performance. Andsnes returned to the stage for a sterling account of the beautiful Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20. Determined applause elicited a splendid encore, a lesser-known but inspired Nocturne by Frédéric Chopin — the Op. 15, No. 1 — for whom Mozart was an exemplar.
The second half of the program opened with the magnificent Anton Webern orchestration of the Ricercare from Bach’s The Musical Offering — this was played at a slower tempo than I have usually heard, which reduced some of the excitement even if it produced a more elevated effect, an approach which was handsomely redeemed in the magisterial conclusion. The evening concluded impressively, with a confident reading of Mozart’s exquisite, late Symphony No. 38, the “Prague”, which displayed the composer’s employment of counterpoint as the result of his studies of Bach in the last decade of his life.
The second week of this year’s Mostly Mozart Festival delivered another rewarding evening of music of the Classical
era on Wednesday, August 3rd
, in Geffen Hall
at Lincoln Center
, repeating the program of the previous evening.
A superb pre-concert recital featured the impressive Martin Helmchen, the soloist for the main program, in a dazzling account of the extraordinary Mozart Sonata in F major, K. 333, confidently handling the variegated moods of the first movement, the elevated introspection of the second, and the virtuosity of the third.
The concert proper again displayed the skills of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, here under the effective baton of Thierry Fischer, music director of the Utah Symphony, in his festival debut. (He was replacing the previously scheduled Andrés Orozco-Estrada who could not appear due to a back problem.) An able rendition of the Symphony No. 59 (the “Fire” Symphony) of Franz Joseph Haydn was punctuated by multiple delights, especially amongst the horns.
Helmchen returned to the stage for an assured reading of the great Piano Concerto No. 25 of Mozart, playing a cadenza by Martin Hecker. The evening closed with another Mozart masterwork, the Symphony No. 40, heard here in a credible reading.
Comparable in excellence was the music presented on the evening of Saturday, August 6th at Geffen, also repeating the music of the previous evening. The pre-concert recital featured the young and handsome pianist, Andrew Tyson, in sterling performances of Frédéric Chopin’s wonderful Ballade in A-flat major, Op. 47 and Ludwig van Beethoven’s marvelous Piano Sonata No.26, the “Les Adieux”, written to memorialize the departure of the composer’s student and great patron, Archduke Rudolph, who fled Vienna during Napoleon’s siege.
The concert proper was again given by the Festival Orchestra, here under the fine direction of the esteemed Estonian conductor, Paavo Järvi, opening with La Sindone, a powerful work by his renowned countryman, Arvo Pärt, a meditation on the Shroud of Turin which was written for the 2006 Winter Olympics in that city. The celebrated virtuoso, Martin Fröst, then took the stage, beautifully rendering Mozart’s ever-popular Clarinet Concerto, with the soloist playing his own cadenzas.
The highlight of the evening, however, was the encore given after a rapturous ovation, delightful klezmer music arranged by the clarinetist’s brother, Göran Fröst. The program closed with Beethoven’s superb Symphony No. 4, where Järvi and the musicians really came into their own, in an exquisitely modulated account.
Mostly Mozart Festival
Jul 22 - Aug 27, 2016
Alice Tully Hall
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Damrosch Park, New York City, NY