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Guest conductors always present an opportunity to diversify our orchestral experience, and it’s been very engaging to have Maestro Edward Cumming guesting with us this week for an all-Mozart show that can’t be beat at the Tennessee Theatre tonight and tomorrow at 8. Mozart's 23rd and 40th Symphonies will be sandwiched around the Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major (aka Theme from Elvira Madigan).

I know some of you are thinking it. “I didn’t even know Mozart wrote a 23rd Symphony.” It’s a real gem of a piece, sometimes called Overture since there are no pauses between movements. Indeed, you might think it the Entracte to an 18th century Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Phyllis Secrist’s beautiful oboe solos carry the second movement, and the violins are in high gear.

No. Mozart did not write the music for the film Elvira Madigan. I resent the fact that his Piano Concerto No. 21's duly exalted status must be buoyed for the listening public by the movie soundtrack tag. I wonder what they used to call it. According to Wikipedia (which is thankfully back in view), only three of the 25 Mozart Piano Concerti have subtitles: K. 246, the Lutzow; K. 271, the Jeunhomme/Jenamy (very interesting story there); and K. 537, the Coronation. But even those titles don’t originate with the composer. Since they are basically written-out improvisations by Mozart with an orchestra accompanying, the piano concerti are the best glimpse into the world of Mozart the performer. Perhaps there is a movie for each one, that would help further the reputation of these gems. Anyways, it’s a old friend; Grout calls it “spacious and symphonic.” Pianist Yeol eum Son’s cadenzas are captivating, and if you KEEP CLAPPING, SHE’LL PLAY AN ENCORE.

Mozart’s 40th Symphony was written a year after a 16-year-old Beethoven played for Mozart. In the lineage of Germanic symphonists, Beethoven (and Schubert) would succeed both Haydn and Mozart, but the rigid constructs of the classical period that Beethoven rent asunder with his symphonies can be heard tearing at the seams in the outer movements of 40. Only two symphonies earlier, in the Prague (which we just played in the Bijou in November), Mozart stayed with the formulae that had brought him success since 10 and 28, but his final three symphonies are so different from each other and all his previous efforts that you just knew something was up over there.

Join us! And remember, Mozart did not write for the marimba.
6 years ago | Read Full Story
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