EFFORTLESS command and spot-on precision: that is the simplest way of describing the performance at Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church on Saturday evening of the strings of the magnificent London Mozart Players, appearing as part of this year’s Stratford Music Festival.
This legendary group – one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras – was without a conductor on this occasion. But the omission of a baton-wielder made little difference to the style and quality of what was on offer.
They opened with Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which suffers from being something of a hackneyed piece because it is played so often (even as Musak in pubs and shopping malls). But in the hands of this orchestra it came across as gloriously fresh, with a wonderful full sound that filled the church and made you realise this was not just any old piece by Mozart but a work entirely befitting the extraordinary genius that he was.
After Sir William Walton’s Music for the Film Henry V, the Players were joined by the young violinist Yuka Ishizuka for a performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in D minor. This is not to be confused with the more famous concerto for violin and orchestra by Mendelssohn; this one was written when he was a mere 13 years of age!
However, the concerto’s maturity and brilliance (let alone its stunning performance by Ms Ishizuka) reminded me of an assertion by the musicologist Hans Keller that Mendelssohn was even more of a precocious genius than Mozart, because he wrote two masterpieces when he was 16 and 17 (the overture A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the String Octet) while Mozart’s first masterpieces (his five violin concertos) weren’t written until he was 19!
The second half of the concert was taken up with Samuel Barber’s ever-popular Adagio for Strings and Tchaikovsky’s marvellously tuneful Serenade for Strings. All in all a fabulous evening in the hands of true maestros.
For a special feature including seven reviews from the Stratford Music Festival - see this week's Stratford Herald.
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