A Joyfully Tragic Ending: The Philadelphia on All Mozart, August 17th
When the program titled “All Mozart” was announced as the season finale for the most adventurous SPAC season in recent memory (arguably ever) I was disappointed. But I was very wrong in my quick judgement; the evening will end with Mozart’s Requiem, one of the greatest and most recognizable pieces ever created.
Somehow, the requiem is a SPAC premiere, and how fitting that Yannick will premiere it. Yannick is known for his ability to connect with vocalists – a talent which landed him his position with the Metropolitan Opera – and a skill he has shown at SPAC several times over the past five or so years. Not to lose my cool, but the chance to hear the Mozart Requiem live played by the Philadelphia Orchestra is a once in a lifetime chance that I beg you not to miss. The sheer power of this piece will change how you hear Mozart.
To open the performance, pianist Christian Blackshaw will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27, K. 595. This piece is Mozart’s final piano concerto, and was first performed in 1791 the year of the composer’s death. It’s theorized that this was Mozart’s final public concert, making it a fitting piece to warm up the audience for the Requiem. Bubbly, light, and charming the piece is classic Mozart. However, there are quiet moments of pain that seem to leak into the joyful energy of the pianist. This is a theme throughout the last few years of Mozart’s works which include his Clarinet Concerto and The Magic Flute opera. Although still in his early 30s, Mozart’s world was becoming heavy, and we see this bleed into his music that is known for being so cheeky and youthful. It’s almost as if Mozart is sensing the future, where composers wrote their lives so closely into their work.
All that being said – it’s still a Mozart piano concerto. It’s beautiful, elegant, clean and Blackshaw will make sure it shines to perfection. It may bore you in some places, but it will always be charming, and act as a great introduction to Mozart’s final work.
The Mozart Requiem. THE Mozart Requiem. This piece is an epic, in many ways it ushered in the new era of music while pulling from Handel, connecting the old and the new. The piece was commissioned for the death of a young wife of a wealthy politician in Vienna, however Mozart’s death during composition has created an almost mystical aura surrounding the piece. It is awesome in the biblical sense, with pieces that can move you to tears and prayers that will make those who don’t pray look skywards.
Mozart died while writing the requiem, and it has been hotly debated who finished the piece, and if it can be attributed to Mozart. On this I side with Beethoven, who stated ‘If Mozart did not write the music, then the man who wrote it was a Mozart.’
Treat yourself, see this concert.
Yannick will lead soprano Golda Schultz, mezzo Tara Erraught, tenor Jonas Hacker, and bass-baritone Philippe Sly along with the Albany Pro Musica Concert Chorus to flesh out the requiem. All four of these vocalists are immensely talented and fairly early in their careers. Yannick is setting a precedent of bringing young rising stars to Saratoga, and I doubt these four are any different. Yannick will undoubtedly bring beauty from the piece, my only current concern is that he will take the Lacrimosa too fast, a bad habit the composer seems to be aging out of. I cannot wait for this explosive and powerful end to such a joyful SPAC season.