Jeunehomme may be an unfortunate name for any young lady, but if the reward is to be associated with Mozart’s first great piano concerto – no.9 in E-flat Major K.271, which bears her name – it can’t be all that bad. It was the opening work in András Schiff’s WPAS-presented concert at the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall last Saturday. The chamber orchestra Capella Andrea Barca (see comments below) that he founded and played with was created specifically for the purpose of performing all of Mozart’s piano concertos – although they have branched out into Beethoven, Haydn, and even Schumann, as of late. Much has been made of the fact that the players of the CAB were ‘handpicked by András Schiff’, but so is every member of any professional orchestra. More importantly these players are friends and good acquaintances of Mr. Schiff and each other who all enjoy spending time and making music together.
This familiarity, collegiality, the warmth and humor come out in their performances. Gentle-hearted, warm, and flowing renditions of the music they obviously love were the result. Mr. Schiff, conducting from the piano (more or less, at least) brought his light, delicate (but thankfully never ‘precious’ or “Dresden China” style), slightly understated Mozart playing to the mix. It came together marvelously: Mozart with a relaxed, broad smile rather than a jolt.
Mozart, Piano Concertos, A.Schiff / S.Vegh / Salzburg Mozarteum Camerata Academica
Tim Page, Piano to Flip Your Wig (Washington Post, October 23)
“Andrea Barca” is but the italianized version of Mr. Schiff’s name. (Schiff = boat = barca, András = Andrea). Schiff has added flourish to the group’s name by inventing the figure of Andrea Barca whom he makes out to be a forgotten Tuscan composer who once turned pages for Mozart, became a Mozart interpreter on the keyboard, and has an opera about burnt-bread soup to his name.