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Mozart’s brilliance rises in concert

February 11, 2017 GMT

The concert started with a “little night music” but expanded into a grand amount of genius.

The San Antonio Symphony concluded its part of the Mozart Festival on Friday night with two, really three, of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s late, brilliant masterpieces.

The first was the Serenade No. 13, known universally as “Eine kleine Nachtmusik,” the first movement being perhaps Mozart’s most memorable tune. Composed as background music for social events, the musicians played all four movements standing up (not the cellists) to acknowledge its light side.

The orchestra, under Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing, stressed the serenade’s entertainment value but gave it just enough weight to make it seem like a symphony.

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The concert’s first half finished with the first of three extraordinary symphonies, No. 39, that Mozart composed in the summer of 1788. Threatening darkness similar to the composer’s “Don Giovanni” opera started the first movement before it shifted to a brighter allegro.

The andante was dreamy with an urgent middle section, a mood that changed to charming peasant’s dance in the menuetto. The orchestra revved up nicely for the brisk, contrapuntal finale.

All of above, though, seemed to wash away when the orchestra jumped into Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter.” The first movement astonished with layered orchestrations that spanned three octaves.

The slow movement seemed to pull aside a curtain to reveal an unexplored realm of existence never before imagined. Once in a movie, Woody Allen said one of the things that make life worth living is “the second movement of Jupiter.” So it was Friday night.

The finale topped everything, though, as five melodies dashed hither and yon, eventually meshing for an amazing, enthralling summation that reached the pinnacle of form and content and pleased the audience of about 1,000 people at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

What made everything work in Symphonies Nos. 39 and 41 was attention to balance and transparency. All of the inner lines could be heard easily. Lang-Lessing employed all of the repeats in the symphonies. Not to do so, as he explained during a preconcert lecture, would have thrown off the symmetry of the classical form that Mozart perfected.

The program repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Tobin Center downtown.

dhendricks@express-news.net