OPERA NEWS - Erin Morley, Emanuel Ax; Louis Langrée & Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
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In Review > Concerts and Recitals

Erin Morley, Emanuel Ax; Louis Langrée & Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra

Avery Fisher Hall | Mostly Mozart Festival

MOSTLY MOZART opened its forty-ninth festival on July 28 in Avery Fisher Hall with the customary overture-concerto-aria format that brings to mind eighteenth-century concerts that would feature new works by Mozart and others along with arias, chamber music, choral works, and the like. In addition, the festival audience is not timid about applauding between movements of symphonies and concertos—again, historically correct—and the soloist and orchestra show their pleasure in an easy-going, welcoming way.

The orchestra sounds better than ever, with the balletic Louis Langrée revealing his trust and confidence in the players, without losing sight of the obvious work they’ve done in rehearsal. If the opening overture, to Mozart’s 1786 one-act Der Schauspieldirektor betrayed some excessively energetic stabbing accents from the violins, the closing symphony, K 338 in C Major, was a delight from start to finish, including the incomplete Menuetto. Opening with pompous timpani thumps, this third movement lasts only about eight measures. Langrée grabbed a microphone and shrugged, “We just don’t know why Mozart stopped composing this minuet!” 

Emanuel Ax brought his authoritative sense of color and line to the piano concerto in E-flat, K. 449, although he might have managed more sense of the unexpected in the first movement’s cadenza and in the entire, rhapsodic, improvisational second movement. 

Erin Morley brought a similar authority and poise to two of Mozart’s difficult concert arias, or rather substitute arias for his sister-in-law Aloysia Weber’s appearance in Pasquale Anfossi’s otherwise forgotten Il Curioso Indiscreto. Both “Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!” and “No, che non sei capace” ascend to high E in lyrical, expressive passages that require even more control than, say, the Queen of the Night’s hammered arpeggios. In the first, Morley paired with the solo oboe in detailing chromatic ascents, suspended attacks, and other technical feats that she handled with finesse. The second aria, with its more brilliant writing, often degenerates into formulaic display, yet Morley intensified each phrase with musical acuity and dramatic verve. —Judith Malafronte

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