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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Symphony brings Mozart's music to life

 •  'Mozart Festival'

A Honolulu Symphony Halekulani

Classical MasterWorks concert

7:30 tonight, Blaisdell Concert Hall

$15-$55 (discounts available for students, seniors and military)

792-2000, 526-4400

By Gregory Shepherd
Advertiser Classical Music Critic

Symphony brings Mozart's music to life

One of the most remarkable aspects of Mozart's music is its utter simplicity of individual line: a scalar passage for the bassoons here, a folk-like tune for the horns there.

But taken together, these lines reveal a staggering complexity of design that is wholly free of artifice or self-consciousness, qualities that are embodied by his monumental Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter").

Conductor Samuel Wong eschews the rollicking tempos that sometimes give the work a bit more propulsion than was in evidence on Sunday's Honolulu Symphony performance, but every detail of the work was brought out lovingly in his interpretation.

The opening chords were full without being bumptious, and the gentle chuckle of the flute and oboes promised a lightness that went on to be emphasized in each of the four movements.

Balance and an elegant sense of ensemble gave the work a transparent clarity, most especially in the five themes of the final movement, which interact with each other like a quintet of personalities from one of his operas. This movement is one of the monuments of Western music, and Wong's direction allowed it to be heard in all its glorious detail.

The little-known Serenade No. 12 in C-minor offers a wealth of inspired detail in its own right, and the wind octet of Scott Janusch, Roger Wiesmeyer, Scott Anderson, Norman Foster, Paul Barrett, Philip Gottling, Ken Friedenberg and George Warnock negotiated its intricacies with good taste.

The prevailing darkness of mood of the work shows a side of Mozart that is rarely in evidence, and its ingenuity makes one wonder why it isn't performed more often. Apparently, Beethoven liked its fourth movement so much that he borrowed generously from it for the finale of his Piano Concerto No. 3.

Symphony No. 40 opened the program, and while the rhythmic figures of the final three movements were just right, the opening movement was taken too slow to be the Molto allegro that Mozart indicated.

Gregory Shepherd has been The Advertiser's classical music critic since 1987.