Culture Magazine

Concert Review: Beethoven Gets Eighty-Sixed

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
Mass in C closes Mostly Mozart Festival.
by Paul J. Pelkonen

Concert Review: Beethoven Gets Eighty-Sixed

Clarinetist Martin Fröst did not wear
this hat on Saturday night.
Photo from 

The 2012 Mostly Mozart Festival ended on Saturday night with the second of two concerts featuring the composer's Clarinet Concerto with soloist Martin Fröst. The concerto, Mozart's last instrumental work, was paired with Beethoven's Mass in C Op. 86, one of the composer's least performed works. Festival music director Louis Langrée conducted.
Mozart wrote the Clarinet Concerto for soloist Anton Städler in 1791, the year he died. It features the sum tota of his abilities as a composer of passionate music that both charm and provoke. The work places great demands on the soloist, who must also provide a sweet tone that takes advantage of the clarinet's uncanny ability to imitate the human voice.
The autograph of Mozart's score is not available, but the work may have been based on an earlier work that the composer had planned for the bassett horn, a kind of alto claarinet with a disticnctive "angled" body. Mr. Fröst, who may be the first woodwind superstar in music since Heinz Holliger, played the work on an extended "bassett" clarinet (down to low C) to meet the required low notes.
Mr. Fröst provided a sweet, mellifluous tone in the first movement, moving nimbly against Mr. Langrée's nuanced accompaniment. The central slow movement requires a player of considerable ability and breath control, two qualities demonstrated here. The concert ended with the athletic Presto, as the clarinet led the orchestra a merry chase through Mozart's variations. Following a tumultuous reception, the soloist returned for an encore: a arrangement of traditional Klezmer dances assembled by his brother Göran Fröst.
Beethoven's Mass in C has long lingered in shadows cast by the great choral pieces: the Ninth Symphony and the thunderous Missa Solemnis written 15 years later. This Mass is from 1807 and belongs to Beethoven's middle period, but the movements seem Haydn-esque in character and tone. Beethoven takes innovative approaches to everything from the hushed, mystic Kyrie to the unexpectedly serene closing pages of the Agnus Dei. The work displeased its patron: Haydn's old employer, the Duke of Esterházy. The composer stormed out in a rage, and the work was forgotten.
With a cast of fine soloists and the choral support of the Concert Chorale of New York, Mr. Langrée made an excellent case for the work. This was a performance of fresh energy and enthusiasm even at the close of a long festival month. Solo voices included familiar faces from Juilliard: soprano Layla Claire, mezzo Sasha Cooke, tenor Paul Appleby and bass Matthew Rose. They seemed to relish the opportunity to perform a rarity by a famous composer and make it their own. 

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Concert Review: Two Sides of Shostakovich

    Concert Review: Sides Shostakovich

    The Houston Symphony opens Spring for Music. by Paul Pelkonen Propaganda poster commemorating the massacre of 1905. On Monday night, Hans Graf and the Houston... Read more

    The 09 May 2012 by   Superconductor
  • Concert Review: The Return of the Flash

    Concert Review: Return Flash

    Lang Lang at Carnegie Hall. by Paul J. Pelkonen Lang Lang. Photo by Felix Broede for Deutsche Grammophon. © 2011 Universal Classics. The pianist Lang Lang is a... Read more

    The 01 June 2012 by   Superconductor
  • Concert Review: Middle Ages, Spread

    Concert Review: Middle Ages, Spread

    The Philharmonic tackles on Carmina Burana. The caption reads: "Virtue lies defeated."(Note the wheel in the background.)From El Club Dumas by Arturo... Read more

    The 02 June 2012 by   Superconductor
  • Concert Review: Tribute to an Enigma

    Concert Review: Tribute Enigma

    The Philharmonic pays homage to Henri Dutilleux. Yo-Yo Ma. Photo by Chris Lee © 2012 New York Philharmonic On Tuesday night, the New York Philharmonic... Read more

    The 29 June 2012 by   Superconductor
  • Concert Review: A Game of FLUX

    Concert Review: Game FLUX

    The Flux Quartet fétes John Cage at Bargemusic. by Paul Pelkonen Three faces of John Cage. It was a hot summer night on the Brooklyn waterfront. Read more

    The 07 July 2012 by   Superconductor
  • Concert Review: Double Reed Gonzo

    Concert Review: Double Reed Gonzo

    Andris Nelsons conducts the New York Philharmonic. by Paul J. Pelkonen Andris Nelsons. Photo by Marco Borggreve © 2012 AndrisNelsons. Read more

    The 09 February 2013 by   Superconductor
  • Concert Review: Beethoven's Heirs

    Concert Review: Beethoven's Heirs

    Leif Ove Andsnes at Carnegie Hall A fearless artist Leif Ove Andsnes confronts the flood. Photo © EMI Classics. The Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes took... Read more

    The 09 April 2011 by   Superconductor

Add a comment