Mozart isn’t my favorite composer, and I wasn’t expecting an especially big turnout to see the Colorado Symphony Orchestra play three of his concertos in a row. Absolutely wrong. It seems that Mozart is still the big celebrity of classical music, and Boettcher Concert Hall was as full as I’ve ever seen it.
Piano Concerto No. 17, K. 453 This was great fun. The piece seemed to perfectly express the joyfulness of our day tromping around in the snowy mountains. Beforehand we wondered why there was no cover on the piano. It became clear when the conductor, Jeffrey Kahane, took the stage and sat down at it. He would be playing and conducting simultaneously, and had to be able to see the whole orchestra. We love Jeffrey Kahane, and it was a joy to watch him consummately perform and conduct the piece, doing each with one hand at times. He appears to do this with ease, as if the music lives in his limbs and only needs to be let out.
Clarinet Concerto, K. 622 This piece, performed by Bil Jackson, was a special treat for Ann, who has an old clarinet stowed away. The piece is written for Basset Clarinet, an instrument with a surprising extension to the lower register. Jackson received a round of applause just for demonstrating this with a short scale. He turned out an athletic performance, as if it were impossible to play the flurries of notes that jump and swoop without some corresponding physical expression. I noticed that when I began to tire of the many trilling cadences, as I tend to do with Mozart, Ann remained enrapt.
Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466 After the intermission Jeffrey Kahane sat down at the piano again to play Mozart’s first concerto in a minor key (D minor). This came as a relief to me, and I greatly enjoyed the darker, rhythmic contortions of this piece that later inspired Beethoven, according to the program. Again, Kahane’s performance was facinating to watch. Ann remarked that his style is soft, not in volume, but in the way his hands appear to float surely over the keys.