By Steve Cooke
Manchester Camerata’s Mozart Made in Manchester project continues to delight through a series of Chandos recordings and live performances at the Stoller Hall.
The Saturday evening packed house found Conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy radiating his usual warmth, humour, and infectious sheer enjoyment at working with the Camerata and soloist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet performing Mozart piano concertos Nos. 11, 12 and 13.
The members of the Camerata responded by playing with smiles on their faces taking great delight in their collective performance. Bavouzet playing a Yamaha grand, and the musicians playing on modern instruments – although not historically accurate to the 1780s it’s certainly a delight to listen to.
Mozart wrote these pieces not long after arriving in Vienna and setting up his ‘subscription concerts’. This was at the very beginning of musicians moving on from being employees of the Church and Aristocracy to the independent performers of today. Mozart booked the venue, employed the musicians, sold the tickets, and wrote the music becoming much wealthier on the proceeds.
The concert saw the overture of Singspiel The Abduction from the Seraglio as the hors d’oeuvre to this three-course menu. The Mozart-Manchester project includes recording all the Mozart opera overtures as well as the piano concertos, and this one began Saturday’s concert, complete with triangle, cymbals, and Jingling Johnnie to create what Gábor Takács-Nagy described as the true “Turkish music” noise.
K413 or No. 11, had an appea;ing dancing pulse brought to its first movement by Takács-Nagy, echoed by Bavouzet, with the tenderness of the slow movement and its sorrowful appoggiature tugging at the heartstrings. The finale sounds like a Minuet, and conductor and soloist made nicely pointed contrasts between the laid-back, almost naïve main theme and its lively episodes. Bavouzet’s playing of the cadenzas was both virtuosic and animated.
No. 12 is known particularly for its slow movement, which quotes almost precisely a theme by J C Bach, (the “London”) who had died not long before the concerto was written. Bavouzet’s playing in the first movement’s Fantasy was dramatic, and the finale caught fire.
K 415, or No. 13, is one of those solid C major celebrations that has its subtleties, both in the singing second subject of the opening movement and in the stately sentiment of the central Andante. played by Bavouzet with elegance and apt touches at every point.
Three curtain calls expressed the shared delight of the performers and audience.