Concert Review - Part 2

Concert Review


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Mozart:                       Overture to ”The Marriage of Figaro”

Mozart                                    Overture ”Sinfornia Concertante”

Mozart                                   Symphony no.41 in G Minor


            San Diego Symphony Orchestra

William Preucil, Violin

Cynthia Phelps,Viola

David Atherton,Conductor


The program opened with a spirited performance of the overture to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro under the direction of guest conductor David Atherton - Concert Review introduction. “In this well-played performance, David had the orchestra pay careful attention to clarity and balance. The payoff was a sprightly account of this favorite. “The sense of fun is there from the start, with clean articulation and a solid sound, topped off with the brightness of the piccolo trumpet, who does on occasion sound a little isolated from the rest. Crescendi are well-judged, with accents carefully placed, but not exploding like musket shots as can sometimes be the case when a brass band tackles a Mozart overture.” The playing was splendid, as it was in an amazingly fleet, neat, and accurate performance of  Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” overture.

The orchestra is a sleek virtuoso band; it responds with feline grace to the demands of the music. It whispers and lilts, and then roars when called for. The textures are always clear, and the balance perfect. I can’t imagine a finer instrumental ensemble: nimble, lithe, transparent, sweet and flexible, yet capable of crisp, robust and powerful fortissimos. The orchestra gives the impression of being able to play anything effortlessly, and more importantly with nuance, shape, and gusto in abundance.

Review 2. Mozart’s Sinfornia Concertonite

The second half of the program was given to Mozart, and added to my delight was the sight and sound of a fortepiano continuo. Violinist William Preucil and violist Cynthias Phelps performed as soloists in the Sinfonia  Concertante, K. 364 of Mozart. In what is surely one of the most engaging works of all time,  Preucil and Phelps avoided flashy effects and strove for sensitivity and delicacy in their reading. It was a success not by brilliance but by strategy — the score provides all the greatness one needs, and nothing need be added to bring out that marvel. the Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola brought the first half to an intense conclusion Preucil brought a floating quality to the violin part, whilst violist Phelps deep tone gave the viola part a searing passion.

The first movement showed at once how excellent the communication between conductor, soloists and orchestra was going to be. For instance, the interplay between clarinets and soloists in the opening bars already demonstrated the brilliance of Mozart’s instrumentation.

Also notable was the equality between the viola, an underused instrument in Mozart’s day, and the violin.

C minor is the key of the second movement, and it’s one of Mozart’s most deeply felt. The way he piles up the different lines, with the violin and viola sections of the orchestra each divided into two groups, creates a dramatic sonic effect. This was the highlight of the evening for me, the  whole ensemble totally concentrated on an ominously rising theme. The finale was sprightly, leading to an impressive high virtuosic section for the soloists and ending on a note of jollity.

Review Mozart’s Symphony no.41

The concert concluded with Mozart’s last Symphony No. 41 in C Major (K.551).

Particularly fine was the playing of the slow movement by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, capturing fully its myriad of  emotions contained within a perfect classical frame.  Maestro David Atherton had been heretofore a most sympathetic accompanist, but here he more than held his own, delivering an incisive and exhilirating account of this great symphony — brimming with the good humor of  opera buffa in the allegros and deeply moving in the andante.

The finale, was a performance of tremendous intensity. The orchestra’s ability to project power is really exciting; particularly in the last movement, their vigor and enthusiasm was truly unrivalled.

Symphony no. 40 (Recorded) and Symphony no. 41 (Performed) Compared:

Concert’s final feature Symphony no. 41 in C major was Mozart last masterpiece immediately preceeding Symphony no. 40 in G. Minor. “The symphony at this time was not the highest pursuit that it would become in the 19th century, yet Mozart’s last six works in this genre (no.37-41) are supreme personal statements (No.38: Andante; No.39: Finale; No. 40: Molto Allegro; No.41: Menueto Allegro).” 3

In fact: “ The Symphony no. 39 in E-flat major of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, K. 543, was written along with symphonies 40 and 41 in a very brief period in the summer of 1788. The work is scored for flute, pairs of clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets, timpani and strings, and consists of four movements:

Adagio – Allegro
Andante con moto
Menuetto: Trio
Allegro assai

Besides the other members of the last symphonic trilogy, and according to the same catalogue, Mozart was writing his piano trios in E and C major, his sonate facile, and a violin sonatina in the same summer.” [4]

The last three symphonies were even called great trilogy of 1788 (Symphony Nos. 39,

40, and 41): “In the summer of 1788, during the course of about six weeks, Mozart completed three extraordinary symphonies, the last such works he would compose. This “final trilogy,” as it is often called, poses two of the most intriguing and enduring questions facing Mozart scholars:

Why did the composer write these works, and did he ever hear them performed? Unfortunately, there are no documents to provide definitive answers, and the circumstantial evidence is contradictory”:5

Analyzing the wide ranging development sections of both outer movements at some length of each symphony, Arnold Shoenberg summarizes the comparison as follows:[6]

Movements    Symphony no. 40 in C MajorK 550 :  Symphony no. 41 in G Major K. 551

1. First            :           Molto Allegro (Fast)     7:25  :           Allegro Vivace                       11.19

2. Second        :           Andante          (Slow)    7:21  :           Andante                                   8:24

3. Third           :           Menueto: Trio (Minuet) 3.54  :           Menuetto. Allegreto – Trio      4:36

4. Fourth         :           Allegro assai   (Fast)     6:50  :           Molto Allegro                          8:30

Though both works are in four movements in the usual arrangement for a classical-style symphony, remarkable characteristic of his last composition is the five-voice fugato (representing the five major themes) at the end of the fourth movement. . .

One can say that the finale represents one of the greatest examples of development in music. .In a 1906 article about the Jupiter Symphony, Sir George Grove wrote that “it is for the finale that Mozart has reserved all the resources of his science, and all the power, which no one seems to have possessed to the same degree with himself, of concealing that science, and making it the vehicle for music as pleasing as it is learned. Nowhere has he achieved more.” Of the piece as a whole, he wrote that “It is the greatest orchestral work of the world which preceded the

French Revolution.”[7] In overall assessment, though the three masterpieces performed live have varying tonal quality and differing moods depicting different life stages of the great composer himself and with the final piece compared and contrasted with a recorded version vary to some degree but find seemingly inherent similarity in majority, none but all of these great masterpieces bear Mozartan character of grace, elegance and musical richness.


1.      Concert Announcement:


Copley Symphony Hall

750 B St. San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 235-0804

Oct. 13, 2006-May 27, 2007
(See schedule below)

Admission: Prices vary. Info: (619) 235-0804.
Sign On San Diego, updated, Sept. 16, 2006
San Diego Symphony 2006-07 Season

Performance venues are Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown San Diego; and California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. The San Diego Symphony box office: (619) 235-0804 or For Escondido tickets: (800) 988-4253 or

Dec. 08-09 (8 p.m.) and Dec. 10 (2 p.m.): Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro,” Overture; Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante”; Mozart’s Symphony No. 41. With violinist William Preucil, Cynthia Phelps on viola can conductor David Atherton.

Mozart’s 250th Birthday
Review on SF State’s Symphony’ s tribute to the late composer
by Asami Novak, staff writer
March 7, 2006 08:29 AM
Copyright © 2003-2004 Xpress Online – Journalism Department – San Francisco State University

Copyright © Classical Archives, LLC. All rights reserved.
Selected images courtesy of Karadar Classical Music

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
5.      Program notes © 2005 by Paul Schiavo, Saint Louie Symphony Program Note, 2005

6.      Structural Functions of Harmony (W.W. Norton and Company, 1954, rev. 1969).

This page was last modified 23:15, 30 November 2006.All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.)
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

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