Mitsuko Uchida and the Mozart Starling | Culture


Works by Mozart and Widmann.

Mitsuko Uchida, piano and direction.

Baluarte Foundation. 2019-20 season. Pamplona Bulwark, January 8.

Mozart He had a starling as a pet. He acquired it in May 1784, at a bird shop near the imperial Hofburg Palace in Vienna. In the Ausgaben-Buch or the composer's expense book we can read its price next to the musical notes of the theme of allegretto end of his Piano Concerto no. 17. A slightly altered version that, apparently, had heard the starling sing and that accompanies with the annotation "that was fine". The anecdote appears in several biographies and has served to discuss the date of the premiere of that concert. He has even been the subject of an extensive monograph of the ecophilosopher Lyanda Lynn Haupt entitled Mozart's starling (Little, Brown and Company, 2017). But this story also refers to the naturalness of the Mozartian musical flow that few performers have reflected better than the Japanese pianist Mitsuko Uchida (Tokyo, 71 years old). This Wednesday in Bulwark, in Pamplona. bird songs almost seemed to be heard during his exquisite performance of the aforementioned concert he directed from the keyboard.

The pianist began another international tour in the Navarrese capital with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra devoted to Mozart concerts. He will continue with two performances in the 36th Canary Islands International Music Festival (January 10 and 11), but also in Lisbon (on the 13th) and Valencia (the 15th), to continue until the end of the month in Dortmund, Salzburg, Hamburg and London, and culminate in March with four concerts in the United States. Uchida comes from spend two years playing the sonatas of Schubert all over the world and on the way to Beethoven. This emblematic year of its 250th anniversary seems to will resume his recording of Diabelli Variations, in Decca, which will be the center of his recitals next spring.

Each concert of this tour with the excellent chamber orchestra founded by Claudio Abbado combines two Mozart concerts, among the numbers 13, 17 and 22, with a brief foray into current music: the String Quartet No. 2, Coral (2003), from German Jörg Widmann, in an arrangement for the composer's orchestra. In Pamplona, ​​perhaps the best program was chosen: the two most distanced concerts at the orchestral level, such as the no. 17 and the no. 22, but also closer chronologically and with all the intensity concentrated in the slow movement. Uchida has created his own Mozart, pearly and Viennese, subtly adorned, although apart from any historicist current. And we heard it before even putting your hands on the keyboard. With that way as unorthodox as effective to musically activate the orchestra.

The pianist has some tempi They seem slower than usual, although they end up finding the ideal dose of humor and melancholy. It was clear at the start of the allegro of the No. 17, with that way of combining the bassoon of the bassoon of Higinio Arrue and the singing of the flute of Chiara Tonelli. Uchida insisted from the keyboard on clarity and articulation, with his way of stating the Alberti basses, but immediately took flight in development and raised the cadence that the composer wrote for his student Barbara Ployer. But the best came in the walking central. The Mahler Chamber showed its excellence in the woodwind section, with the oboe of the Japanese Mizuho Yoshii-Smith next to the aforementioned flute and bassoon. But also with those rhetorical pauses that Uchida knew how to turn, again and again, into surprise and chill. For its part, the allegretto final, with the aforementioned starling theme, it sounded with admirable fluency in each of its variations, but it lacked spark in the end, in that kind of stretta which turns Mozart's concerts so many times into a sort of transposed opera.

Before the break, the string section of the Mahler Chamber appeared alongside its soloists of flute, oboe and bassoon, now without Uchida, to board the Second foursome from Widmann in his orchestral arrangement. The composer starts from a motive of The seven words, from Haydn, and a verse from Tasso ("In questo sacral legno”) To offer a portrait as static as terrifying of the crucifixion. Alexi Kenney led the play as concertmaster and he managed to give coherence to his immense dynamic and timbral palette, both to the extended techniques, in the string, which reflect the friction of the skin on the wood, and to the reinforcement of the three wind instruments for its melodic profile. The dim lighting or mostly standing arrangement of the orchestra did the rest. And, in the end, the tension accumulated in fifteen minutes of music crystallized in 30 seconds of silence, after that impressive ascent nothing comforting that ends the work: a tremolo that fades to the most absolute nothing (to the niente, write the composer in the score).

The second part focused on the Piano Concerto no. 22, from Mozart. A composition that abounds in the cordial relationship he had with Salieri. Both composers not only collaborated, in October 1785, in the composition of the cantata for the recovery of the voice of the English soprano Nancy StoraceThey shared a stage at the Tonkünstler-Societät concert on December 23, the day Mozart premiered this concert. On that evening, Salieri directed the replacement of the oratory Esther, from Dittersdorf, and maybe also Mozart's concert with the piano composer.

The pianist Mitsuko Uchida (from behind) playing and conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, this Wednesday in Pamplona.

The pianist Mitsuko Uchida (from behind) playing and conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, this Wednesday in Pamplona.

The work stands out for its colorful orchestral being the first to have a pair of clarinets, instead of oboes, surely motivated by the presence of the Stadler brothers. Uchida highlighted that different color in the orchestral introduction. And not only with more intensity than in the first part, but also stirring up the dialogues established by the flute with the pairs of clarinets and fagots. But it took a while to get into the concert from the keyboard. Of course, when he did, we heard some of the best moments of the night. Like that expressive outburst of Mozart in B flat minor, in the exhibition of allegro initial. Or later, in the harmonic journeys that he undertakes in development, while the wood converses aristocraticly. Nor did the pianist give up putting her grain of creative sand with her own cadence.

But walking It was the best of the night. Uchida contributed flight and fantasy from the keyboard, added interesting ornaments and raised this emotional kind of theme with variations. And the orchestra was not far behind. Mozart turned the third variation into a kind of serenade, almost as a prediction of the future garden scene at the edge of the sea of ​​his opera Così fan tutte. And here the clarinetists Vicente Alberola and Mariafrancesca Latella stood out, as did Tonelli and Arrue in the beautiful flute and bassoon duo. The allegro final looks like a conventional rondo, but Mozart surprises again by inserting a andantino cantabile That was another wonderful serenade in the hands of the Mahler Chamber, with the wood talking with the string and the piano acting as master of ceremonies. This time Uchida found the spark necessary to complete the work. But finally he preferred to go to Bach. And he gave the public as a tip a wonderful and refined version of the zarabanda of the French Suite No. 5.

Mozart buried his starling in the garden of his house, in July 1787. The composer, who had not attended his father's funeral two months ago, buried his pet with guests, pomp and music. He even wrote a poem as an obituary that he read solemnly ("A little fool lies here / to whom he was fond of ..."). It looked like a childish farce, but for him it was cathartic. And it was not difficult to remember this anecdote, yesterday at the exit of the concert, after hearing that ideal Mozartian mix of humor and melancholy to Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.


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