Mitsuko Uchida has been playing Mozart for what seems likean eternity. She has studied, performed, and recorded all 27 concerti, and her thoughtful and nuanced approach borrows from the insights of historical performance practice, the interpretations of the great soloists, and the chamber music of her summer home, the Marlboro Music Festival where she is an Artistic Director along with the Beethoven legend Richard Goode. Sir Colin Davis is also something of a Mozart specialist having developed a reputation throughout his career as a master of the classical period repertoire (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and early Schubert). It is with these masters that the BSO will perform two great works by Mozart, the 23rd Piano Concerto in A and Symphony No. 36, Linz, and Schubert's Second Symphony this weekend.
The two Mozart pieces on this program illuminate the different compositional approaches the composer took for his Symphonies and his Concerti. Mozart composed the 36th Symphony, for instance, for a specific setting, Linz, and limitations in time and resources affected the piece substantially. He wrote the piece in about four days, for an ensemble that lacked adequate woodwinds; the symphony is one of very few in which Mozart employed an orchestra with no flutes and no clarinets. The Piano Concerto No. 23, by contrast, has both of these instruments in addition to oboes and bassoons, and this fuller section changes the character of the sound as well as the nature of the dialogue between sections of the orchestra. If there was ever a pair of musicians with the awareness and sensitivity to bring out these details and countless others embedded in these brilliant scores, it is Uchida and Davis.
Schubert uses a similar orchestra for his Second Symphony but a very different and distinct creative approach. The extended phrases and meandering melodic lines of his gorgeous, late period works can already be sensed in the opening themes of the first movement. This is a playful and energetic piece that will seem all the more adventurous in a program steeped in Mozart's more traditional fare.
Join us this weekend for concerts of Mozart and Schubert with Sir Colin Davis and Mitsuko Uchida, and hear again (or for the first time!) what makes these artists such fabulous interpreters of classical music.
Does anyone have a favorite Uchida recording? Or if not Uchida, who would you pick if you could purchase only one series recording of Mozart Concerti? How about Sir Colin Davis? Was anyone lucky enough to hear his last performance of Dream of Gerontius with the Boston Symphony? More on that next week...