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Notes from the 2011 Salzburg Festival ( 6 )

Mozart Matinee • Ivor Bolton, Julia Fischer

The chamber concerts and the Mozart Matinee series of the Salzburg Festival—tucked away in the neat and pretty, great sounding “large” hall of the Mozarteum— are the slightly less starry and glitzy cousins of the frontline opera and concert productions across the Salzach in any of the three specific festival venues with its red carpets, throngs of onlookers, and tabloid photographers. Ticket prices are much lower, the audience liberally dotted with young people and students and aficionados—among them, regularly, Germany’s former President Roman Herzog who mingles casually among acquaintances.

available at Amazon
W.A.Mozart Paris Symphony, Masonic Funeral Music, et al.,
C.Abbado / BPh
Mozart Matinees start at eleven in the morning, and Sunday, August 7th, this meant Ivor Bolton leading the Mozarteum Orchestra in two Mozart Symphonies, the Masonic Funeral Music, and the Third Violin Concerto with Julia Fischer. Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony in D, K297, was the first time Mozart had a large orchestra to play with, and the band at the premiere in Paris (June of 1778) was likely bigger than the 25 strings and horns, trumpets, flutes, oboes, clarinets (making their first appearance in a Mozart symphony) + timpani of the Mozarteum band, but that didn’t keep the 38 musicians from creating an ideal combination of the full-bodied and energetic, bursting at the seams especially in the first movement. After a touch of taffy in the Andante, the third and final movement (Parisians, bless them, didn’t like Minuets as a rule, nor repeats, and Mozart happily obliged to their listening habits and expectations) was a hurried business that, when the musical artillery led by brass and timpani, joins the fray with the strings, swept one along the rousing finale.

The Third Violin Concerto—the first after the much commented-upon quantum leap from numbers one and two—turned out a nice divertissement without gimmicks with a routine slow movement. Mme. Fischer in the midst was as per usual flawless and in good taste, strident cadenza or not. Her tone was varnished, still articulated with clarity but more zest and more vibrato than I am used from her; with less of that that glass-bell like ethereal quality. The encore, Paganini’s 24th Caprice, was robotic but flawed and, to these ears, a loveless un-necessity. (Review of her complete Mozart concerto recording here.)

Expectedly dark as we expect funeral musics to be, even when they were not originally composed for that purpose, Mozart’s K.477—just 69 symbolic bars long—wrapped the listener into its musical cloth thanks to the wonderfully deliberate, low-playing winds… a sugary-grim highlight before the Symphony in C, K200, showed why the 1770’s Paris audience—belittled in the liner notes for their particular and predictable preferences, as if audiences elsewhere did not have their own peculiar set—had a point about those nugatory Menuettos. Perhaps it also didn’t help that K200 wasn’t played with the same freshness and vigor as K297… except for the finale which was a beehive of excitement, kicking one out on the street (the rain had probably either just started or just stopped) and me—eventually—on my way to choreographer Sasha Waltz’s “Continu”, danced to the music of Xenakis, Varèse, and Claude Vivier.