A Whole Lot of Night Music

by Ed Peaco


Getting your attention

In case anyone was napping in the auditorium before the music started, Kyle Wiley Pickett struck up “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” calling for booming bass drum and tympani, clanging cymbals and persistent triangle. After the first salvos of percussion, all went silent in able to offer a few measures of oboe. As the short piece developed, the percussion kept the audience alert at Hammons Hall on Saturday, January 18.

Piano Concerto No. 21

Featured soloist Marika Bournaki approached the concerto in a fluid manner as called for with the works of Mozart; however, she also worked through various kinds of dynamic and touch approaches that made the piece come to life.

Only the soloist knows those thoughts during rests, but Bournaki seemed to be playing an additional part in the ensemble when she wasn’t playing the piano. She was exercising slight-but-strong nodding into accented notes, and during rests, patting out the rhythm on her knee. Those mannerisms offered listeners additional chances to get into the music.

In the second movement, the piano was bolstered by delicately plucked violins. In the third, everyone on stage seemed to be having fun.

After the Mozart concerto, Bournaki offered an encore, “Arabesque,” an effervescent piece by Schumann. During intermission, I heard numerous people speaking in luxuriating tones about “Arabesque.”

A Little Night Music and Symphony No. 29

For these pieces, only the strings returned. The chairs were removed, and the violins and violas stood, as was the practice in the 18th century. I noticed several results. The ensemble had a lighter sound, and I found myself focusing more on the lower strings. Most interesting, more of the bodies of the players were moving in subtle ways. There was a lot of swaying and a little arching up and down on the toes.

“Night Music” became a little more profound in the fourth movement. “Symphony No. 29” used what I would call the technique of call-and-response, which seemed to become more elaborate as the work went on. Moreover, the addition of just two oboes and two horns created a great amount of ballast for the all-strings ensemble.

Two pieces from the opera, “The Marriage of Figaro”

“Sull’aria- che soave zeffiretto” with sopranos Jennifer Forni and Rebecca Claborn. Then Forni performed “Dove sono i bei momenti.” The two wonderful voices provided more excellence, joy and different textures for the evening’s Mozart adventure.

About Mozart in America, or just Mozart

Pickett has been showing and telling how the Mozart program fits into the American Playlist pop-culture concept, up to his pre-concert talk from the stage last Saturday. He also has noted that the Mozart evening provided needed balance within the American season.

In any case, the concert was filled with quality performances.

With every uproar of applause for every movement, and with the warm ovation at the end of the concert, Mozart was a big hit!

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