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Midsummer Mozart (LA): An all Mozart concert conducted by Nicholas McGegan at the Hollywood Bowl

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Midsummer Mozart under the light of the moon, okay under the lights of the Hollywood Bowls, but the concert on August 13 made me feel rhapsodic. I think Mozart and the Bowl were made for one another especially with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of the capable Nicholas McGegan. The London Independent calls McGegan “one of the finest Baroque conductors of his generation. From the moment he bounded on stage as if he couldn’t wait to begin his enthusiasm infected the Bowl.

First on the agenda was the ever-popular Overture to The Marriage of Figaro. What is particularly satisfying is to hear the piece played by a world class orchestra like the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This set the tone for the evening and next up was the Mozart Piano Concert No. 23 in a major, K. 488. Mozart wrote three piano concertos in 1786 and this is probably the least known. For this work Mozart eliminated the trumpets, drums, and oboes that give the piece a chamber- like feel. The pianist for the occasion was the French Canadian Louis Lortie. Lortie sits upright when he plays and touches the keys with a very delicate touch giving the whole piece a very lithe and gentle feel. He not so much merges with the piano but rather exploits it for wonderful tones all the while keeping an artistic distance.

Well, it is the Bowl so there had to be one real crowd pleaser and that was Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550. In the world of music it is considered to be the model of perfection due to its “fusion of superb formal structure and classically restrained passion, a virtual Pieta of music”. Maestro McGegan and the Los Angeles Philharmonic did the piece justice bring out its pathos, struggle, as well as well-balanced Romanticism for which this piece is known. This magnificent Mozart program was performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl , August 11 and 13.

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