The Israel Chamber Orchestra’s Amadeus Festival continues this week, Wednesday November 20 and Thursday November 21, with more Mozart: Symphony No. 35, Piano Concerto No. 12 and Piano Concerto No. 20. Yoav Talmi, the Orchestra’s Music Director, will conduct and internationally-acclaimed pianist Angela Cheng will perform the piano concerti. A fascinating pre-performance lecture will be given by musicologist Anat Sharon, who will explain the intricacies of each work.
Canadian pianist Angela Cheng is a Mozartean institution. Born in Hong Kong and raised there and in Alberta, she comes from a musical family. Her grandfather crafted and sold musical instruments in mainland China, and all of her family members learned to play from an early age. Angela herself learned music at her mother’s knee. Today, in addition to her career as a soloist, Ms. Cheng tours the world with Pinchas Zukerman and his Zukerman Chamber Players, performing in Europe, North America and the Far East.
As this year marks the 40-year anniversary of the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, the Amadeus Festival is bringing several past winners to the stage. Cheng, who won the Gold Medal in the 1986 competition, is this week’s guest star. Her talent for interpreting Mozart’s music won her the Medal of Excellence from the Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Symphony No. 35 in D major (K. 385) is named the Haffner Symphony, after the family who commissioned the work. The Haffners were acquaintances of the Mozart family, and Mozart had already written for them his Haffner Serenade in 1776, in honor of the wedding of Sigmund Haffner’s daughter. This work proved to be a great success, and when the time came for young Sigmund Jr. to be ennobled, in 1782, Mozart was again invited to compose a piece for the event. The resulting work was again a serenade, but in the winter of that year Mozart rewrote it as a symphony, which became one of his most lauded symphonic works.
In that same year (an especially busy one in his life) Mozart composed Piano Concerto in A major (K. 414) was written. The composer paid homage in this work to one of his most distinguished mentors: Johann Christian Bach, who had recently died. In the second movement of the Piano Concerto, Mozart quotes from the overture to one of Bach’s operas, La calamita de cuori.
Three years later, in 1785, Mozart wrote his Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor (K. 466) and performed it at the Mehlgrube Casino in Vienna. At the premiere, the ink had literally not yet dried on the score – a letter from Mozart’s father Leopold to his sister reads:
“[I heard] an excellent new piano concerto by Wolfgang, on which the copyist was still at work when we got there, and your brother didn’t even have time to play through the rondo because he had to oversee the copying operation.”
The concert will be held on both November 20 and November 21 at 20:30. The lecture (in Hebrew) will start at 19:30 in the auditorium. For more details visit the Israel Chamber Orchestra’s website: www.ico.co.il. Get your tickets at 03-5188845 (extension 5).