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Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival's Strong Second Week

Paavo Järvi

The second week of Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival was a strong one. The concerts reached a high-point on Monday,  with the arrival of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under Paavo Järvi. The orchestra's playing was characterized by freshness, dynamism, and an especial sensitivity to rhythm.

The performances brought out superbly the enormous debt Schumann owed to Beethoven in his overture to Manfred and his "Spring" Symphony, a relation remarked upon by Professor Bryan Gilliam in his informative pre-concert lecture. Another plus here was the superior acoustics of Alice Tully Hall, where the Manfred overture sounded riveting even from the back of the auditorium.

The excitement of the playing of this ensemble encountered its perfect complement in the intricate interpretation of Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 17 by the fascinating pianist, Piotr Anderszewski, who thrilled me further with his encore of the delicate and gorgeous miniature, Bartok's Three Hungarian Folksongs (which the pianist performed this spring at Zankel Hall in a pair of recitals devoted to celebrating the work of Karol Szymanowski).

After the rousing "Spring" Symphony, the orchestra obliged the enthusiastic audience with two outstanding encores: the finale from Beethoven's First Symphony and an achingly beautiful rendition of the Sibelius Valse Triste, notable for some extraordinary pianissimos along with an occasionally too unorthodox acceleration of the tempos.

Tuesday's and Wednesday's concerts were preceded by recitals of Stravinsky's Octet for Winds, a neoclassical work whose formalism skirts aridity. The concerts proper began with corresponding performances of Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks Concerto, a more rewarding work which reveals the dimension of Stravinsky's sensibility that ideally suited his compositions to the choreography of George Balanchine.

Gil Shaham joined the Festival Orchestra to deliver a splendid version of Mozart's "Turkish" Violin Concerto. On both nights, after standing ovations, Shaham announced his encore as "Turkish music, not by Mozart"; he played his own, delightful arrangement of Nihavent Longa. The concerts closed with sensuous readings of Beethoven's Second Symphony.

Another highlight of this year's festival was the revival of L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato, a masterwork by Mark Morris choreographed to Handel's settings of the great, early Milton poems. The only weakness here was the inadequacy of the singer-soloists.

The weekend concerts were both preceded by recitals by Jenny Lin, playing selections from Bach's magnificent The Well-Tempered Clavier  and from Shostakovich's Bach homage, the opus 87 preludes and fugues. The Shostakovich was especially notable, with Ms. Lin drawing out the icy lyricism of these finely crafted works. The concerts began with Mozart's enjoyable but slight overture to Così fan tutte, followed by a sensational performance by David Fray of Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 22. The concerts closed with a glorious account of Mozart's "Prague" Symphony.

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