Poor Wolfgang Mozart; a child prodigy by aged five, he never even got to celebrate his thirty-sixth birthday. Sired by a demanding father he was encumbered by names such as ‘Chysostomus’; ‘Theophilus’ and Amadeus. Preferring to go by the latter; he then had the misfortune to have that name utilized as the title in an overly embellished 1984 Milos Forman movie that depicted him as a childish fool. 41 symphonies; 15 masses; 25 piano concerti and the same number of string quartets & over half a dozen operas… not too shabby for only three decades!
The Hamilton Philharmonic and guest conductor Ivars Taurins of Tafelmusik fame decided to dedicate the entire program to a sampling of Wolfie’s genius. Opening with the short but extremely popular and familiar Abduction from the Seraglio overture. The term refers back to the Ottoman Empire and means either a harem; palace; brothel or minimum security jail! The music was performed with such verve and fun as to probably give credence to either the first or third definitions. The HPO played with technical proficiency also vitality and spirit.
Mozart’s 3-movement Sinfonia Concertante afforded concertmaster Steven Sitarski and principal violist Chau Luk the opportunity to solo and duet the work. The opening movement is allegro maestoso; an almost oxymoronic phrase because allegro is ‘fast’ while maestoso defines stately or dignified. Thus, the opening movement is sort of ‘conductor’s choice’ but Taurins’ opening comments failed to credit the interpretation to his own or the soloists’ choosing. Either way, the occasional almost rondo effect and the phrasing were creative especially in the emphasis of the four-note motif that notably evokes the third & final lines of the Royal anthem. Sitarski has a more emotional method of performance while Luk is more mechanized. During the andante 2nd movement, the orchestrally unaccompanied duet, the tempo seemed almost moribund, while the very familiar-themed finale was given a lilting interpretation.
Post intermission, the incredible Symphony no. 40, the great G-minor which (like Beethoven’s fifth) opens with one of the genres most hummable themes allowed an abbreviated HPO ensemble perform faultlessly. All together now – – 5, 6, 7, 8… Didi dum didi dum didi Dum DUM
Taurins, whose profile is a double for ‘CSI Cyber’s’ Ted Danson, uses the baton as an accoutrement, it is his facial expression; body movement and posture that exhorts the orchestra to interpret the printed score. He and the ensemble nuanced the andante 2nd with elaborate emphasis that was strikingly interpreted. The construal of the minuet-ish third was one of the most signifying, delicate and empathetic readings that I’ve heard. Emphasis was the overall impression of the finale where one could almost tangibly feel the music as much as those performing the work. The result reflected this affinity for the composition by both conductor and musicians.
Finally; DECORUM, [a] Once again a reminder to those seemingly unaware that applause between movements is a distraction for the musicians as well as a symbol of one’s lack of cultural awareness. [b] To the Oriental lady whose two little girls, danced; jumped; swung and Hora’ed around the mezzanine throughout the concert… the other patrons don’t deserve such nuisance distractions.