A new concert season has begun and I am glad to be back at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg for many wonderful evenings with delightful music. The first concert I attended featured four quite special works in a row: Bela Bartok’s Romanian Dances, arranged for strings, Felix Mendelssohn’s very first violin concerto (in D minor), again arranged for strings, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s beautiful Serenade for Strings and finally the work I will write about today: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, K. 238. Wow! What a programme! What an evening!
Mozart was fond of Prague and Prague was fond of Mozart – that is a fact. The composer celebrated some of his earliest and biggest successes in Prague, like the lasting triumph of his operas “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni”, which endeared the city to a man looking for flattery. And of course the visit of such a distinguished guest as Mozart allowed the city to capture some of the glory that usually was reserved to Vienna, the capital city of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
Listening to and writing about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music is always a pleasure, a relief from everyday’s hustle and bustle. Here I sit with two hours to kill and I have nothing better to do than to enjoy Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 27 in G, K. 379, performed by Augustin Dumay (violin) and Maria Joao Pires (piano). And once again I struggle to find the right English word to describe the music’s mood. “Innig” in German – intimate, profound, heartfelt; that’s what the dictionary gives me. But it only hints at the depth of emotion stirred up by the first movement.
Where shall I start? With the beauty of the piece? With my excitement over the first occasion to listen to one of my favourite pianists? Maria Joao Pires. Born in Lisbon in 1944. She doesn’t make much fuss about herself. “The performer is not so important”, she often said in interviews. The music is. “Music is the truth about the world that we do not know,” she said at her 70th birthday in an interview with the German weekly “Die Zeit”. She has studied Buddhism, and the way she plays Mozart is… elevating.