Concert Series Celebrates a Great Austrian Composer

AustraliaAustralia Mozart: Sara Macliver (soprano), Fiona Campbell (mezzo soprano), Richard Butler, (tenor), Ashley Giles (bass baritone), Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Brandenburg Choir / Paul Dyer (director, fortepiano), City Recital Hall Angel Place, Sydney, 8.5.2013. (ZT)

Allegro from Twelve Duets for two Basset Horns, K487
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik K525: first movement, Allegro
Rondo for Three Basset Horns K439b
Violin & Piano Sonata No 17 K296, second movement
Canon Difficile lectu mihi mars K559
Serenade in B flat major K361, Adagio
Motet Ave verum corpus K618
Mass in C minor K427

Of those preeminent individuals on whom the epithet ‘The Great’ has been conferred, none is more deserving than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In a short life of 35 years he amassed an opus of around one thousand works, exploring with consummate skill every musical genre of his day. His compositions comprise some of the most beloved and revered in Western art music.

The current Australian Brandenburg Orchestra concert series which commenced on May 8, is entitled ‘Mozart The Great’. The programme comprised well-known and more obscure pieces; some are short, another occupies the entire second half of the concert: The Great Mass K 427.

From the outset the rather rampant imagination of Paul Dyer, the artistic director is conspicuous. There were group performances from the mini stages located above the main stages. In K559 half the choir was located on the left and right galleries above the main level and the remainder walked up and down the aisles on the main level. This gave a pleasing kind of quadrophonic effect akin to that heard on the Tallis Scholar’s recording of Allegri’s Miserere mei Deus (Gimell 339). At the beginning of the Violin and Piano Sonata K296, the violinist was totally preoccupied with dust on the piano and its removal by energetic sweeps with finger and cloth. The more imaginative members of the audience will have better understood the significance of this latter activity?

During this recital one felt in the total embrace of a familiar and beloved friend. The first half passed in what seemed like five minutes, and left the listener out of breath from the exquisite beauty with which Mozart imbued those masterpieces. Musicians and singers alike excelled in pursuit of interpreting the record of Mozart’s intentions.

The presentation of The Great Mass K427 was riveting, and superbly executed on all accounts. There is no recording equipment which can capture or reproduce the musical epiphany that a live presentation of this standard confers.

From the perspective of the pedant, one could comment on the odd challenge with instrument intonation. Maybe the piano could have been a little more subdued in K296 allowing the violin greater prominence during its lead parts? In the opening bars of Et Incarnatus Est from K427, a couple of notes were incongruous with the beauty of the remainder.

There is always reluctance to classify any Brandenburg Orchestra concert as the best I have yet attended, because it seems that in the not too distant future such comments once again become redundant.

Zane Turner