Mozart was no longer alone. After five years, Salzburg reopens the Mozart Week program to other composers. Antonio Salieri, the alleged killer of Mozart, pits Rolando Vilasan against his favorite composer, albeit in just one work, in an opening concert Wednesday in the Great Hall of the Mozarteum Foundation, and the audience predictably cheered him on. Nothing can stop his beloved festival from opening brilliantly.
“It's raining, the trains are on strike in Germany, I'm fighting a cold. But that's okay, Mozart is alive and Salieri is alive,” Rolando Vilason greeted his audience to great applause. As in previous years, the Mozart Week director moderated the opening concert, telling anecdotes from rehearsals and bantering with his conductor, Roberto González-Monjas. Here you can hear two real Mozart fans having a casual chat, which made the program very accessible.
From the beginning, Gonzalez-Monjas made it clear in his demeanor that he respected the composer as much as the director. Pure joy ran through the movements of the symphony in E flat major, in which he managed to find something joyful even in the smallest changes. From the following autumn he would be chief conductor of the Mozartian Orchestra, which he led at the beginning and was influenced by his mood. I searched and found it, let's say. The conductor and the orchestra tackled the Jupiter Symphony in the second movement with vigor and dynamism, which gave the work a nice freshness, but at times pushed the hall's acoustics to its limits.
Certainly the boss didn't miss the opportunity to contribute a few arias that evening. “Mozart wrote his first work for voice for me. Well, fun, but for the duration,” Villason joked in the introduction. In the concert aria “Va, Dal Führer portata” could be heard in relatively few of the announced ills. Villazón continued with a high level of energy throughout all of his arias, often with dramatic interludes to entertain the audience. That can sometimes be a very good thing, but Villazon knows exactly how to get his audience and keep them engaged.
In the end there was only a small space left in the program for Salieri. Gonzalez-Monjas focused his symphony “Il giorno onomasco” on as many accents as possible, with the Mozarteum orchestra enthusiastically following him. A direct comparison with Mozart made it clear why one was known as a genius and the other as a composer. Nevertheless, the conductor and orchestra left us wanting more Salieri, and there is plenty to do at the festival. In any case, the audience celebrated the opening with a rousing round of applause.
(By Larissa Schutz/ABA)
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