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REVIEW: Entering the Kingdom of Mozart in Stafford
Thu 15th Mar 2012 - 9:53

 

"Gabor Takacs-Nagy, paraphrased the bible to declare that unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of Mozart.  Kathryn Stott was completely in the zone." Chris Ramsden reviews Manchester Camerata's Echoes of War in Stafford on 14 March 2012 for his Notes from Middle England blog.

 
"One suspects that Mozart would have been rather chuffed that almost two hundred years after he wrote it, one of his masterpieces has taken on a life of its own, even if it is only as the theme music to a rather superior chick flick. He'd have been particularly delighted, of course, to be still raking in the royalties. 

"One suspects that Mozart would have been rather chuffed that almost two hundred years after he wrote it, one of his masterpieces has taken on a life of its own, even if it is only as the theme music to a rather superior chick flick. He'd have been particularly delighted, of course, to be still raking in the royalties. 
  Pianist Kathryn Stott 
 
Alas, I too am one of the people who've never seen it, but my friend Andy saw it in the seventies, and it's thanks to him that I first discovered the marvels of the Mozart piano concerto.

Knowing I was keen on classical music, he asked me if I had a disc of the lovely piece of music from the film (he didn't actually know what it was). I pretended I knew what he was talking about (I'd never heard a single Mozart piano concerto) and went off to try and find it. In fact, it was years later before I heard the 21st, but in the search for the right one I discovered all the others, and was totally bowled over by their drama, melody, and brilliant structure.

Kathryn Stott seems determined to give the people of North Staffordshire a performance of every concerto, though at the rate of one a year it might take some time. She started back in 2010 with the 20th, not a bad place to start, for to my ears it is the best of a marvellous bunch. In 2011 we got the final one, number 27, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. And last night at the Stafford Gatehouse with the Manchester Camerata, we got number 21, Elvira Madigan.

The Camerata's conductor, Gabor Takacs-Nagy, paraphrased the bible to declare that unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of Mozart. I think he was talking about a certain level of open-ness and honesty necessary to play that apparently straightforward music.

You also need to be extremely skilled; to take just one example, the triple chords which open the andante have to be clearly heard but soft, and all at the same level. Kathryn Stott was completely in the zone.

She refused to be drawn on which was her favourite Mozart concerto, but she admitted she left them completely alone for ten years before discovering how wonderful they were. She is doing them justice now she's found them.
The Mozart was sandwiched between Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin and Strauss's Metamophosen. Gaby Takacs-Nagy said the Ravel was all about colours, but I couldn't help thinking many of the colours were wiped out by the Gatehouse's dry acoustic. On the other hand, that acoustic made it easier to tease out the strands of the Strauss, a work which can often seem too dense and interwoven.

By the way, Elvira Madigan is apparently also the name of a Swedish symphonic black metal band (no, me neither). Would Mozart have signed up to be keyboard player?
 

Details of this concert 

Read the Whole review at Notes from Middle England

Manchester Camerata in Stafford

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