Friday, August 24, 2012

Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra - Bach, Mendelssohn & Mozart - 08/21/12

Conductor: Andrew Manze
Bach: Orchestral Suite No 3 in D Major, BWV 1068
Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No 1 in G Minor - Stephen Hough
Mozart: Symphony No 41 in C Major, K. 551 (Jupiter)

After some exciting performances of major works by Beethoven and Brahms lately, it was high time to indulge in a bona fide masterpiece by the man without whom the festival wouldn't be: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And what better way to celebrate the Viennese master's genius than by treating myself to his truly god-worthy Jupiter? What's more, Stephen Hough and Mendelssohn did not sound like a bad pairing, and everybody loves Bach, so off my friend Linden and I went on Tuesday night... only to serendipitously bump into an old acquaintance of mine/dedicated music lover from Washington, DC at the entrance of the Avery Fisher Hall. Great minds think alike indeed.

Bach's Orchestral Suite No 3 had actually been arranged by Mendelssohn, which provided a nice transition to the second piece on the program. But it first provided a nice opening to the concert, with the wonderful "Air on the G String" artlessly standing out in all its ethereal simplicity.
Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No 1 is only 20 minute long, but then again, why keeping on rambling on if you've already made your point, right? And the young composer certainly packed a lot in a comparatively short span, all brisk tempos and bright melodies. In the effortlessly virtuosic hands of Stephen Hough, the Romantic euphoria sprang up bubbly and intense, but always knowing its place in respect to the orchestral accompaniment.
The ovation was long, loud, and eventually rewarded with an achingly delicate Traumerei. The perfect counter-balance after Mendelssohn's fireworks, Schumann's little treasure was all the more savored for its serene nature.
After the intermission, during which we rushed out to warm up on the balcony, we giddily went back to our seats and for a few minutes even forgot the frigid temperatures in the concert hall, carried away that we were by the Jupiter's attention-grabbing, vibrantly contrasting opening. And it only got better as the sprawling symphony magnificently unfolded. International conductor Andrew Manze had for sure hit the bull's eye for its first gig with the Mostly Mozart Festival and he did not spare any effort. Under some rather inconspicuous looks he obviously nurtures a passionate soul, which became quite apparent as he was vigorously leading the orchestra into an energy-filled, impeccably informed and all-around impressive performance. Now I can say that beside some brilliant distractions from Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Mendelssohn, I finally heard some truly kick-ass Mozart at the Mostly Mozart Festival, and was able to subsequently go home with complete peace of mind.

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