Last night the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed an all-Mozart concert, the first in its two-week-long mini-festival celebrating history's most famous boy genius. Mozart's 257th birthday is next weekend, which seems as good a reason as any to indulge in a little gratuitous Amadeus worship.
Starting with last night, this weekend's concert features the young German violinist Augustin Hadelich playing Mozart's "Turkish" Violin Concerto #5 and an interesting juxtaposition of the composer's first and last symphonies.
Hadelich and DSO conductor Jaap van Zweden pulled off a thrilling concerto performance last night. I haven't heard a violinist at the symphony this year with as consistently beautiful a tone as Hadelich's. Playing on a 1723 Stradivari violin, he never scratched, jerked, or manhandled the instrument, but instead artfully and meticulously launched one beautifully crafted melody after another with warmth and grace.
If it sounds like gushing praise, you're not mistaken. After a standing ovation, the gawky Hadelich returned for a quick encore, playing Paganini's Caprese #9 impressively without overworking it.
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When Mozart wrote this concerto at 19, he had himself in mind as the solo performer. He didn't leave us with music for the cadenzas -- the showy solo sections of the piece -- because he typically improvised them, changing them with each performance. This weekend Hadelich performs his own originally composed cadenzas, infusing the old with some inventive new energy without straying from Mozart's style.
After intermission, Jaap van Zweden led the orchestra in Mozart's Symphony #1 in E-flat major. The first movement was played with such artistry and touching phrasing; it was hard to accept the fact that Mozart wrote it when he was 8. The orchestra followed this with an exuberant performance of the Jupiter Symphony (No. 41 in C Major), a much more mature and familiar work.
For these concerts the orchestra is smallish, paired back to reflect the size of 18th-century orchestras. The sound won't blow you away, but it just might inspire awe.
This concert is repeated tonight and tomorrow night (Friday and Saturday) at 8 p.m. Next weekend (January 24 through 27) the DSO will present more Mozart faves, including the Piano Concerto No. 24 and Symphony No. 40.