Last week the Concert Hall was bathed in soft golden candlelight as patrons thrilled to the jubilant strains of Mozart.
Glowing tapers surrounded the musicians of the Perth Symphony Orchestra and guest soloists as they breezed through the works of the Salzburg master, intermixed with the works of other composers.
Mozart by Candlelight was definitely a concert with a difference, as well as being the PSO’s first performance at the state’s premier classical concert venue, usually the home of WASO.
Acclaimed virtuoso violinist and ensemble leader Paul Wright made his PSO debut on the viola in the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Shaun Lee-Chen on violin. What a combo!
There was also brilliant solos throughout the program by horn player Julian Leslie, violist Katie McKay and oboist Stephanie Nicholls.
The program wove together Mozart’s own intimate letters, notes and compositions, alongside music inspired by US oboist Blair Tindall’s book Mozart in the Jungle – providing a glimpse into the lives of classical musicians.
“Blair Tindall’s book, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music really resonated with me,” says PSO’s Founder and CEO Bourby Webster.
“I set the challenge of bringing this sense of ‘real life’ into a Candlelit concert featuring stunning music by Mozart, and some of the pieces that appear in the TV iteration of Blair’s book.”
The night opened with a beautiful performance of Mozart’s Horn Concerto in D, K.412. Allegro and Rondo Allegro.
Mozart’s horn concertos belong to the final period of his life and were written for the Salzburg horn-player Ignaz Leutgeb. The PSO did justice to this beautiful piece in two movements, which was made even more magical by the gold glow on stage.
Then came Muhly’s Etude No. 3, a lilting and evocative viola piece. Three Études for Viola was composed by American composer and arranger Nico Muhly and written for Nadia Sirot, one of Muhly’s close friends.
Next was the Australian premiere performance of Caroline Shaw’s Is a Rose, made famous by the Mozart in the Jungle television show and performed by Helen Shanahan. Really lovely stuff.
Then it was back to Wolfie, with the Oboe Quartet in F. K.370. The quartet is scored for oboe, violin, viola and cello, and the hall resonated with wonderful lilting strings and melodious woodwind.
It was a night of Australian premieres, and Michael Nyman’s Drowning by Numbers: Trysting Fields with soloists Paul Wright and Kathy Potter added a vibrant change of melody and tempo.
The glorious finale came in the form of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K.364. In 1778 Mozart ‘discovered’ the sinfonia concertante, or concertos involving more than one soloist, in Mannheim. Back in Salzburg a year later he wrote one of his own – the Sinfonia Concertante in E flat (K.364), which is one of the greatest and most original of all his concertos.
Paul Wright on the viola and Shaun Lee-Chen on violin made this mellifluous and ethereal piece a delight.
What a wonderful way to finish a night of music, old and new, by the ever creative and dynamic PSO.
I’ll swear the playful spirit of Amadeus was nodding tacit approval from above!
For more info or bookings at upcoming PSO performances go to www.perthsymphony.com
Photographs: Karen Lowe