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Very good Wigmore Corridor live performance – instructional and viscerally thrilling – celebrates 25 years of The Mozartists – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom Mozart’s Czech Mates – Vanhal, Gluck, Mozart, Mysliveček, G. A. Benda, Kozeluch: Chiara Skerath (soprano), The Mozartists / Ian Web page (conductor). Wigmore Corridor, London, 26.9.2022. (CC)

Claudia Skerath, Ian Web page and The Mozartists beforehand on the Wigmore Corridor

Vanhal – Symphony in G minor, Bryan g2 (between 1765 and 1767)
GluckLa clemenza di Tito (1752) – ‘Se mai senti spirarti sul volto’
Mozart – Live performance Aria, Bella mia fiamma …. Resta, o cara, Ok.528 (1787)
MyslivečekLa clemenza di Tito (1772) – ‘Se most important senti spirarti sul volto’
G.
A. Benda – Scene from Medea (1775, carried out in English)
Kozeluch – Symphony in G minor, Op.22/3, PosK I:5 (revealed 1787)

Celebrating their twenty fifth anniversary (not fairly within the vogue that they had hoped because of Covid), The Mozartists offered this fascinating programme. As Web page says, ‘Prague and its inhabitants held a particular place in Mozart’s coronary heart, and most of the main composers of his day have been of Czech extraction’. Web page additionally factors to the sturdy music training in Bohemia at the moment, and hyperlinks it to music training at the moment, reminding us that ‘not one of the performers on stage this night would have develop into musicians with out having being triggered by particular musical experiences throughout their childhood, and certainly one of our major goals as an organization is to offer related experiences for future generations’.

Fantastic to see Chiara Skerath again with The Mozartists – she is among the most interesting younger sopranos on this repertoire round in the mean time. However first, a symphony by Johann Baptist Vanhal (1739-1813), That is the second of Vanhal’s G minor symphonies in Paul Bryan’s catalogue. The G minor key actually imparts a way of withheld drama to the opening. Web page’s efficiency was fantastically pointed, Steve Devine’s harpsichord excessive stage left subsequent to the double bass. A particular point out maybe for first horn Ursula Paludan Monberg, who appears to have the ability to decide these excessive notes from nowhere. The second motion, an Adagio, rightly moved properly. That is successfully the gradual motion of an oboe concerto, melodic and sleek, and properly performed by James Eastaway. Attention-grabbing how the third motion, a Menuetto and Trio, manifests because the outgoing equal of the very opening of the primary motion. Web page’s tempo was good; apparently, the Trio is as soon as extra oboe-dominated, and the second when oboe and strings be part of collectively is simply pure magic. The efficiency of the finale was the crowning pleasure of the efficiency, with its coiled spring of a gap. Small surprise Vanhal was one of the crucial revered symphonists of the eighteenth century.

It’s typical of the adventurous spirit of The Mozartists that we have now two La clemenza di Titos, neither by Mozart. Two settings of the identical textual content, by the way (not set by Mozart in his opera), Sesto’s aria ‘Se mai senti spirarti sul volto’ (‘If ever you’re feeling respiratory in your face’). Gluck’s opera was premiered in Naples in 1752, some 4 years earlier than Mozart was born. The textual content speaks of feeling the sighs of the beloved within the breeze and the way that allays the sufferings of the beloved. That is Sesto’s farewell to Vitellia, lachrymose and ineffably lovely.

Skerath’s voice stays one of the crucial purely lovely sopranos possible, and the way she conveyed the disappointment so properly. Her voice was positively rapture-inducing; on a technical degree, the massive leaps Gluck writes inside one cantabile line have been managed impeccably. Skerath ornamented the A1 part of the aria, injecting some appoggiaturas that went straight to the guts. And eventually, earlier than the interval, certainly one of Mozart’s cruelly under-performed live performance arias, Bella mia fiamma, written for the soprano Josepha Duschek. Right here we have now the character Titano, one other particular person in torment, one other farewell. In Mozart’s arms there’s a pure elevation of tone; what was notable about Web page’s efficiency was how he introduced out the invention and even the modernity of the writing, notably within the traces of the opening. The aria itself is attention-grabbing as Titano addresses 4 completely different characters: maybe it was the repeated entreaties of ‘Resta, o cara’ (‘Keep, my dearest’) that have been most touching right here. Pure magnificence from all.

If something, the second half was extra spectacular, partially due to the impressed programming. Ian Web page has on a number of events stored the flame of Josef Myliveček alive. Some viewers members might need identified Mysliveček’s setting of ‘Se mai senti spirarti sul volto’ from Magdalena Kožená’s DG disc, Le Belle Immagini. Mozart included, this was essentially the most heavenly music on the programme, the oboe/bassoon opening fantastically managed (thereafter the bassoon retains its perform of mezzo-staccato accompaniment determine, with the oboe connecting the vocal phrases to the vocal line). Mysliveček’s setting of Clemenza sits halfway between Gluck’s and Mozart’s. The 2 components of the aria are very clearly distinct. That is impressed music of the very best magnificence – when the A1 part seems and the oboe and bassoon as soon as extra duet, it truly is like being transported to the Elysian Fields. Very good wind enjoying right here from Eastaway and bassoonist Zoe Shelvin; and essentially the most liquid of legatos from Skerath.

Not many within the viewers, I’m positive, may have come ready for the scene from Georg Anton Benda’s melodrama, Medea. The entire is a outstanding, 50 minute-plus work. Melodrama (speech and music) is finest identified via Beethoven’s Fidelio (the Dungeon Scene) and Weber’s opera Der Freischütz. Here’s a setting by the one composer on this specific programme that Mozart by no means met, Georg Anton (Jiří Antonín) Benda. We do know that Mozart attended a efficiency of Medea in Mannheim in 1778, and this piece, together with Benda’s Ariadne auf Naxos, impressed him enormously (there are passages of melodrama in Zaide). The piece is after all primarily based on Euripides and concentrates on Medea’s revenge on Jason. Actually this must be carried out within the vernacular for maximal impact, and so it was right here. It’s truthful to say Skerath (whose English is great) gave it her all, with Web page essentially the most attentive of companions (the entire thing is sort of a extremely prolonged passage of spoken recitative). The sense of satisfaction in Medea’s character projected by Skerath was fearsome in itself; plus there was a spine-tingling invocation of Hecate (bear in mind Shakespeare’s witches? – to not point out a major presence in present Paganist praxis). Skerath acted out the stabbing, and it labored due to her sheer immersion within the position. Merely gorgeous.

My very own private introduction to Leopold Kozeluch (1747-1818) was by way of the Sinfonia concertante for the unlikely mixture of trumpet, piano, mandolin and double bass on an outdated Erato LP: a pleasant piece. It’s tough to think about a efficiency of the music right here, the G minor Symphony, that might do Kozeluch extra favours than Web page’s – the primary motion (of three) nervy, stuffed with vitality, the central Adagio replete with wealthy textures an absolute dream, dissonances from the pair of oboes talking straight to the guts, the finale a correct Presto, scampering urgently, its energy enhanced via The Mozartists’ ultra-tight ensemble.

An excellent live performance: instructional, actually, however viscerally thrilling too. Right here’s to the following 25 years of The Mozartists!

Colin Clarke

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