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Orpheus Celebrates Mozart's Anniversary and Emanuel Ax's Anniversary, Too!

- Classical and Cultural Connections

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
(Orpheus Website)
490 Riverside Drive, NY, NY 10027

Emanuel Ax, Piano
(Emanuel Ax Website)

At Carnegie Hall
Press: Cohn Dutcher Associates

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 12, 2006

(See Orpheus Historical Notes).

(See Orpheus September 18, 2006 Review).


Mozart (1756-1791): Overture to Così fan tutte, K. 588 (1790)

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503
Allegro maestoso

Emanuel Ax, Piano

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453
Allegretto-finale: Presto

Emanuel Ax, Piano

Mozart: Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385 “Haffner”
Allegro con spirito

In tonight’s Mozart celebration, one of the final 250th Mozart birthday anniversary events and also a 30th anniversary of Emanuel Ax’s performances with Orpheus, the orchestra without a Conductor, the audience was treated to Mozart’s (1790) Overture to Così fan tutte as an opening appetizer. With flutes and oboes, bassoons and horns, clarinets and trumpets, and timpani and strings, Orpheus led the score in sumptuous and buoyant fashion. The entire Overture lasts five minutes, and “Women are like that”, the translation of the opera’s title, energized and enlivened the Hall.

Emanuel Ax, guest artist for the two Piano Concertos, is visually comfortable and close to this orchestral ensemble, as he should be, after 30 years. The Allegro maestoso in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 25 (one of Mozart’s 27 piano concertos), lasting 15 minutes, allows for virtuosic piano solos, amidst the heraldic majesty of the music. The final two movements, Andante and Allegretto proceeded with smooth sweeps and a finale of dance-like motifs. It’s a pleasure to watch Mr. Ax relate to this orchestra in such seamless and flawless fashion.

The high points of tonight’s concert came after the intermission. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 brought out more musical fullness and depth, with Carnegie Hall’s superb acoustics resonating richly. The Allegro was replete with pregnant pauses and whispering, flowery phrases. Repetitive chords were accompanied by bassoons. The early piano solo of this (1784) concerto had more youthful, sweeping style than did the (1786) No. 25 above. The Andante was melancholy and elongated, with sublime string effects. The Allegretto-finale included measured Minuet rhythms, and, without a pause, the Presto was heraldic and billowing, with spinning sensations.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 (1782), written for a “boyhood chum”, on the request of Leopold, Mozart’s father, in the midst of the younger Mozart’s secret wedding plans to Constanze, has four magnificent movements, and, tonight, Orpheus was on its own in especially dramatic form. The Allegro con spirito was wild in spirit and dynamic in volume. Andante calmed the work a bit, while Menuetto was powerful, but brief. Presto was replete with vigor, with ethereal flutes and windy embellishments. Kudos to Mozart, kudos to Orpheus, and kudos to Emanuel Ax.

Emanuel Ax
Photo courtesy of J. Henry Fair

Emanuel Ax
Photo courtesy of J. Henry Fair

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at