Date: August 25, 2019
Location: Stiftung Mozarteum Grosser Saal, Salzburg.
Mozart – Symphony No. 34, KV 338
Mozart – Concerto for Two Pianos, KV 365
Mozart – Symphony No. 38, KV 504
Ádám Fischer, conductor
Lucas Jussen and Arthur Jussen (piano)
This late morning matinee concert was delightful, not only because of the overall quality of the performance but because, on this Sunday morning with crisp air and blue sky, this was one of the few Mozart-only concerts in the entire Festival. Fischer was an animated conductor, but not merely aesthetically: the orchestra reacted with each beating of his baton, whether a tempo pickup, a long-planned crescendo, or that sudden subito piano. Melodically, the oboe pair’s series of harmonic counterpoints in the first movement was delicious, warm and airy. The Jussen brothers had a disastrous start in the piano concerto for four hands: in the middle of the first movement, an unknown beeper started to cause some confusion, if not between the pianists or within the orchestra, then certainly with the audience, in which many angry heads were frantically looking for the offending culprit. No one accepted fault, but the beeping died down eventually. The Jussens held fort, but the orchestra’s output seemed somewhat stranded, in terms of confidence, amidst all the confusion. The second movement began with glaringly constricted oboes and smudged horns, but order was soon restored when the pianos intervened. The roam to finish was resolute and strong, and the Jussens rewarded a ferocious ovation with a triptych from Bizet’s Jeux d’enfants, Op. 22. Le bal (#12) stood out particularly with the Jussens taking great care of, and having fun while hacking away at, the dancing rhythms and flowing melodic lines. After intermission, Fischer led a fine treatment of the Prague. Brass glimmered like lush summer willow, while woodwinds nourished their lines with great care, like butterflies picking nectar elegantly away. The pictorial reminded the audience what a great day it was in Salzburg, even if the music was not programmatic in its intent. The overall sound inside the Mozarteum was fantastic, with just enough reverberation to sound warm but not too much to muddle.