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Mostly Mozart

                                         By Michall Jeffers

The opening program of Mostly Mozart 2015, was actually made up of only Mozart, and the result was a delightful evening for all the music lovers in the audience. The Festival is an annual summertime tradition in New York; this is its 49th year, and there’s no doubt that the tradition is still going strong.

The concert featured pieces which are less familiar to the listener than the standard old chestnuts. With the exception of the popular Symphony No. 34 in C major, which ended the evening,  lesser known music provided a different view of the beloved composer. Featured were  Overture to The Impresario and Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-flat major.

A magnificent concert grand piano was opened, and the audience roared with appreciation as the great Emanuel Ax walked onto the stage. Ax looks like everyone’s favorite grandpa, complete with glasses and a sweet demeanor. He gently caresses the keys; music just seems to flow from his fingers. So enamored was the audience by the virtuoso, he was beckoned back for an encore, which was equally well received. The sixty-six year old
 Ax, who was born in the Ukraine, is a Grammy Award winner; in addition to being a world renowned pianist, he’s also on the faculty of Juilliard.

Another treat was in store after the intermission.
Highly regarded coloratura soprano Erin Morley maked her Festival debut singing Mozart arias Vorrei spiegarvi, Oh Dio! and No, che non sei capace , both composed in 1783. At 34, she’s definitely a sought after rising star in the opera world. Morley had a true 42nd Street moment in 2013 at the Metropolitan Opera, when she stepped in for an ailing colleague and received kudos for her star turn as Sophie von Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier  At this Mostly Mozart concert, Ms. Morley looked as lovely as she sounded, in a bright red satin evening gown.  She’s very attractive, and appealing to the audience. When she was presented with a large arrangement of pink roses after her solo, the concert hall filled with applause for her once again.

There is a unique feeling of comradery at Mostly Mozart concerts.  Those of us watching the performances feel as though we’re a part of the proceedings. This is due almost entirely to Conductor Louis Langree, who exudes sheer joy, and clearly inspires the musicians with his animated facial expressions as well as his lyrical hands. When Langree stopped the music in the middle of a piece, and turned to the audience to shrug that even he doesn’t know why Mozart stopped composing at that point, we all shared a laugh together. The internationally renowned Langree has been the music director since 2002. The exuberant Frenchman was named Renee and Robert Belfer Music Director in 2006, and in the same year, was appointed Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the Minister of Culture in his native country. He has long been a favorite conductor of opera companies around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala. There is no denying it; even in a simple black shirt and slacks, with his back turned to the house, you simply can’t take your eyes off Langree.

The Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra  is composed of some of the finest musicians currently employed by top American orchestras; they come together on the thrust stage of Avery Fisher Hall as the only U.S. orchestra dedicated to the music of the Classical period. The ensemble is modeled on what such a group would have been like in Mozart’s era. The mutual respect the musicians have for one another, and their individual skill are factors that are crucial to the success of the orchestra; but even Langree has marveled at just how well the musicians work together. “How is it possible that these musicians that play together only five weeks each year…come together as an ensemble so quickly?”  He answers his own question by noting “It’s about a different type of attitude, about individual musicians collectively coming together to make music.”

Mostly Mozart continues through August 22nd.  There’s nothing quite like it in the world; when you’re listening to these performances, you’re hearing the best.

Mostly Mozart, Lincoln Center, through August 22nd.

Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center Campus, 1941 Broadway, at West 65th Street.

For ticket information: phone 212-721-6500 or visit