Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mostly Mozart, 2013: Closing Night

Avery Fisher Hall. August 23, 2013. 

It is often boasted that the arts are for everyone and likewise touted that more young people ought to attend concerts and too that music brings people together. This is at least partially rubbish, and I would like formally to wish the two young women who jabbered to their mortified boyfriends during six of the night's twelve symphonic movements, some period of banishment to the most beshitted pits of Tartarean hellfire and there to enjoy the tantalizing torment of hearing, amongst the rattling chains and spinning wheel and serpentined fury, the echoes of Elysian peace and, now and then, some fading chord from spurned Parnassus. (Henceforth known as The Curse of the Philistines.)

What those philistines missed was an agreeable if flawed performance of Mozart's final three symphonies by the Mostly Mozart Orchestra under the baton of Louis Langree. The same strengths and shortcomings pervaded all the symphonies of which the minuets came off the strongest. There, Langree's firm strokes brought the dances to shaped and lively, if not nimble, life. The syncopations of the G minor menuetto were especially off-balancing thanks to the basses who weighed in heftily there and the whole night. Sometimes their energy supported the piece, as in the their responses in the E-flat finale and their snarling kickoff of the G minor's 1st movement exposition fugato, other times they swallowed the other lines as they did at points in all the fugal sections.

Right on target the whole night, though, were the winds, especially during Symphony 39. There, whether for their spot-on dynamics or  punctuation during the first movement, for floating aloft the fleeting canonical passages of the andante, or cheekily chiming in during the symphony's finale, they earned their section's special applause. The songful lines of the menuetto were especially soft and sweet.

Though the fugatos lacked the ideal separation between voices, Langree brought off the slow movements of the last two symphonies with a special romantic fullness which didn't collapse into languor. The concert was well worth hearing these two slower movements, often hurried over in favor of their flashier bookends, treated so well. Concluding, the Jupiter finale traded in some articulation for exuberance, but not to the point of laxity. The movement's themes were well-shaped and thwacking around until they joined each other in the great polyphonic coda which brought deserved smiles and vigorous applause.

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