SSO – Mostly Mozart – Amir Farid

Earlier this month, to Angel Place again for an SSO “Mostly Mozart” concert. The program was:

MENDELSSOHN Octet for strings
MOZART Piano Concerto No.14 in E flat, K449
Michael Dauth violin-director
Amir Farid piano

The octet is a great work. The performance may not have had the flash and polish of some recordings I have heard, but of course a live performance is something very special to appreciate on its own terms.

Chattiness feature of this series. This time there was no speechifying until the orchestra was being reset for the concerto. At this rate, soon we won’t need to sit through any speeches at all. Robert Johnson (the designated talker) innocuously enough told us how he fell in love with the Mendelssohn octet hearing it on BBC whilst huddling over a radiator in London. That does seem a bit late for a talented musician to have encountered this piece. I guess horn players are brought up rather insulated from string quartets, let alone octets, and I guess male altos (Johnson’s other, lesser-known musical talent) aren’t necessarily much more in contact with them.

The Mozart is a Sydney rarity: this was its first SSO performance. It was written for a rather smaller orchestra than usual, and Farid approached it even more like chamber music than Mozart concerti are usually approached. This seemed right, except that his efforts to produce a certain kind of soft and fluffy touch in the last movement were compromised by empathetic bodily movements. This is an old problem in musical performance: risk taking and expression versus safety and accuracy.

I’m happy for Farid to have taken risks in the cause of expressivity, but my hunch is that the bodily movements, though undoubtedly borne out of an emotional necessity, were more disruptive than functional. OK: maybe I’m just channelling the teacher who was always telling me to sit still.

One Response to “SSO – Mostly Mozart – Amir Farid”

  1. While I’ve been away – Ten concerts « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] See separate post. […]

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