Who can ever get too much Mozart, at one swallow? The immortal spirit of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart seemed to descend and consecrate the proceedings when his “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” filled Knowles Memorial Chapel as a program opener on Friday, Feb. 22. (I remembered an early time in Germany when I said, “Eine kleine Naktmusik” meaning a little naked music. Oops!)
On Friday, conductor John Sinclair established energetic tempi on which he put few restraints until pianist Gloria Cook began the Piano Concerto No. 21, which closed the program. Sinclair’s work on this particular evening was mostly that of a fine orchestral accompanist, and he proved to be that in every detail. Mozart’s 1773 “Exsultate, jubilate” (K 165) is a religious solo motet, and spreads the joy of Mozart as far as the ear can hear. Rollins faculty member soprano Julia Foster sang with clear ringing spinto voice this renowned piece with its beloved “Alleluia” ending. Foster – with sure-fire pitch, rare vocal beauty plus good looks – is an artist one could expect to meet in a major European opera house.
Mozart’s fourth, and last, (French) Horn Concerto in E-flat major brought hornist R.J. Kelly to the fore, where he delivered in footrace pace Mozart’s rapid passages, music that gains much clarity when played in more relaxed tempi. One looks for the beauty in Mozart’s tuneful phrasing, not to see how fast it can be finished. Kelly’s sound is a handsome one, and he knows his way around the horn as well as anyone needs.
Following intermission, a couple of dozen very cute and talented kids took the stage to sing two Mozart pieces. One could hear among these voices sounds of promise for coming years. “Ecco Quel Fiero Istante” showed the beauty of their voices. My having sung Tamino in “Die Zauberflöte” many times, my hearing the kids sing the Papageno/Papagena duet was an anomaly of some delight. And the kids’ own enjoyment in singing it added to everyone’s pleasure.
In Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C Major No. 21 (K 467), Rollins faculty member, pianist Gloria Cook, gave a stellar performance of one of Mozart’s most beloved compositions. Cook’s tempi were respectful Mozart to my ear, and her clean runs were stunning. This pianist has a fine concept of what the work in question is all about, and has the musical intellectuality to infuse her playing with it. The connection of this Concerto’s second movement with the movie “Elvira Madigan” has given it the somewhat unfortunate nickname of the “Elvira Madigan Concerto.”