Monday, May 19, 2008

You can see ....

... why Mozart the elder, Leopold of that ilk, is not as well-known as Mozart junior, Wolfgang. The elder is quoted every time there is a debate about the use of vibrato - in his famous violin school he mentions that some people use it as if they have 'the palsy'.

But anyway. Tonight's concert of Musica Humana in Vilnius was all Mozart, père et fils. Frankly, père's symphony in G major is not worth hearing again. Pedestrian? Like a man with a walking stick. Three basic movements, all with repeats - as if a beginner had written it. Haydn was surely writing symphonies at that time, and they at least had some meat. This one was also wobbly on rhythms, and caused the very tiny orchestra of 8 to wobble even more at the start. I've commented on the unnecessariness of having a conductor for an 8-person band before, especially when he insists on conducting every single note.....

The band, incidentally, must have been scraped together a little. The usual stalwarts were there, in the viola, the cello, the oboe, flute and harpsichord, but otherwise it was all strangers (well-known to me, though). It's a question of finding the able and willing, I guess.

The WA Mozart flute and harp concerto followed. Interestingly, it involves a harpsichord, too. In addition to the 8 string players there were also a flute, an oboe, and two horns. When you have this level of wind forces, you need more than a couple of fiddles to each string part to be able to hear the string players. There was a bit of a struggle with this. The soloists, Ula Caplikaite (Flute) and Joana Daunyte (harp), played well. Caplikaite had a beautiful tone - though, was there a bit of improvisation in the final movement? Can you talk about a 'tone' in connection with the harp? The harpist did what harpists do, and I wondered if harpists sometimes see the world through a curtain of strings. I was not always sure whether the two were entirely together; the harpist seemed to be rushing off, particularly in the first movement - but perhaps that was just the visual impression.....

Back to dad and Leopold's Mozart's Missa Solemnis in C major. While the programme mentioned the overall structure of the piece, the usual mass structure, actually the piece had about 15 or 18 parts since each movement was broken down into others. That made it a long concert! Here the choir 'Jauna Muzika' appeared and the usual group of soloists, Ieva Prudnikovaite, Mindaugas Zimkus, Ignas Misiura, and a new one to me, Aiste Sirvinskaite. Vaclovas Augustinas, the choirmaster, took over the conducting - what a relief, compared to the overactive beating of the air before! This piece seemed to be better constructed than the symphony (apart from the choir-only entry at the beginning), though it had strange little mini-cadenzas for the solo singers, who all got a chance to do a little flourish her and there. I was not sure about Ms Sirvinskaite; her part involved a lot of sudden jumps up high, and these did not, generally, work well; don't think she'll make a Queen of the Night. And Ms Prudnikovaite's voice - I don't know how much of a market there is for a woman's voice that is so exceptionally deep. It's not really the done thing for a woman to sing men's parts. It also lacked warmth, I thought, and I wondered if I heard that awful step that I have in my voice where the quality is different between high notes and low notes. Zimkus was fine, and Misiura need not have got out of bed, given the tiny, tiny part Mozart père had written for him.

Somehow today intonation did not seem to be entirely fixed; it's wobbles affected singers, oboist, trumpets, the flute soloist (?), and some others. But this happened only sporadically and overall the packed audience was grateful and gave a standing ovation. Quite unusual in this church!


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