Honoring A Genius

Musicians celebrating the 250th birthday of Mozart

Classical Music

September 09, 2005|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

All over the world this season, musicians are honoring the 250th anniversary of the birth of the "supreme Austrian genius of music whose works in every genre are unsurpassed in lyric beauty, rhythmic variety and effortless melodic invention."

That description, by the late American composer/author Nicolas Slonimsky, remains as good a summation as any of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born in Salzburg on Jan. 27, 1756.

Everything touched by Mozart turned to sonic gold, and, in the coming months, programming scheduled throughout the Baltimore-Washington region will allow audiences to bask in the glow from that musical alchemy.

Mozart's Requiem, which the Austrian composer was working on when he died tragically young in 1791, will serve as a fitting tribute. The Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Choral Arts Society of Washington, Annapolis Chorale, Peabody-Hopkins Chorus and Harford Choral Society all have scheduled it.

Another unfinished choral masterpiece also will get more than one airing - the C minor Mass (nicknamed "Great") has been programmed by the Concert Artists of Baltimore and Columbia Pro Cantare. Still more of Mozart's rich choral music will be performed by the Handel Choir of Baltimore and Baltimore Masterworks Chorale.

And the brief Ave Verum Corpus, perhaps Mozart's most sublime choral creation, will be included in a concert by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which also has sprinkled several of his piano concertos and a couple of his symphonies through the season.

The composer's enormous contribution to the operatic repertoire is very much in the picture, too.

Annapolis Opera will present one of his greatest hits, The Magic Flute, while other organizations will explore some of his less-often-performed works for the stage: La Clemenza di Tito (Washington National Opera), Idomeneo (Opera Lafayette at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center) and The Impresario (Annapolis Chorale).

The Abduction From the Seraglio will be semi-staged by the National Symphony Orchestra during Mozart's birthday week. Note the novel casting of none other than ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson in the speaking role of Pasha Selim.

A healthy sampling of Mozart's divine chamber music also dots the season calendar. The Shriver Hall Concert Series, for example, will bring in at least three Mozart-bearing ensembles - the Takacs Quartet, Zukerman Chamber Players and Vienna Piano Trio.

At Evergreen House, you can find a piece for horn and strings; at the Sundays at Three series in Columbia, you can find a Mozart overture arranged for the unlikely combination of four guitars.

Also in Columbia, Candlelight Concerts will present two ensembles from the famed Berlin Philharmonic, each bringing some Mozart with them. Members of the Baltimore Symphony, appearing in concert series at various churches, will explore chamber works by the birthday boy as well.

From the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra to the Annapolis Symphony to the Washington Performing Arts Society, the legacy of Mozart's genius will be heard and felt, weaving a connective - and decidedly attractive - thread through the season.

Please see listings through page 24 for more information.

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