Saturday, March 6, 2010

NSO - Mozart & R. Strauss - 03/05/10

Conductor: Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Mozart: Serenade No 6 in D Major, K. 239
Mozart: Piano Concerto No 23 in A Major, K. 488 - Ingrid Fliter
R. Strauss: Symphonia domestica, Op. 53

After checking out the classical music stars of tomorrow upstairs, Heidi and I were back in the more familiar concert hall for an evening of Viennese delight courtesy of the National Symphony Orchestra. I have been hearing quite a bit of Mozart's oeuvre lately, but I am always ready for more, and the fact that much praised Argentinean pianist Ingrid Fliter was going to be on hand to play his stunningly beautiful piano concerto No 23 was enough to make me giddy with anticipation. His Serenade No 6 was going to open the concert, and Richard Strauss' ambitious tone poem Symphonia domestica would be the second half of the program. Maestro Frühbeck de Burgos (Quite a mouthful) was the special conductor of the evening, a familiar and welcome figure to the NSO and its audience.

Mozart's Serenade was predictably a delight of elegance and lightness, a little tidbit with a big pay-off. A fully enjoyed introduction to bigger things to come.
Next, his piano concerto No 23, unsurprisingly one of the most popular in the whole repertoire, unabashedly radiated the same luminous grace, especially highlighted this time in the delicate intricacies sprinkling the soloist's parts in the first and last movements. Breaking the generally sunny mood, however, the slow second movement bristled with thoughtfulness and melancholy while remaining fully integrated in the whole piece, an unexpected emotionally charged moment in an ocean of gentle waves. At the keyboard, Ingrid Fliter clearly demonstrated that her command of piece was real and I couldn't help but notice the impressive fluidity of her playing and her unwavering lightness of touch. Orchestra and conductor seemed to totally relish playing such an accomplished work in such good company, and the whole performance was a true feast to the ear.
After such refined entertainment, it was time to become acquainted with Richard Strauss' apparently blissful domestic life. Even if it has not uninamously praised as a work worthy of its composer and does not appear very often on concert programs, the depiction of 24 hours in the Strauss' household in four continous movements contains a lot to like. The NSO played with praise-worthy, if not impeccable, coherence for such a large and complex challenge and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos obviously had a field day conducting it from memory. All in all, this was yet another very good evening at the Kennedy Center.

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