Lars Vogt plays Mozart

was a relatively small-scale affair for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The German soloist conducted the composer's most popular C major concerto from the piano and took the podium for the closing

Linz Symphony

.

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This all-Viennese evening opened with the overture to Beethoven's The Creatures of Prometheus and, in keeping with the legend, we had five minutes of fire, flickering through Allegro violins while walls of flame surged against thundering timpani.

More recent Vienna was represented by Anton Webern's 1905 Langsamer Satz, a lush slice of late romanticism.

Although it works better in its original quartet form, Vogt coaxed some extraordinary outbursts from the full orchestral strings, discreetly handling the sliding portamentos added to this arrangement.

When it came to concerto time, Vogt's conception of Mozart wasn't for all. His care taken with orchestral phrasing and nuancing was visible as well as audible throughout.

The Swedish film Elvira Madigan put this concerto's Andante on the charts in 1967 and, more than half a century on, its first few notes still brought sighs in the stalls. Any expectations of a languid soft-focus wallow were thankfully dashed. Clocking in at well under six minutes this was an elegantly poised serenade, Vogt's shapely solos floating through delicate orchestral dissonances.

The Linz Symphony was written in just four days and, in all honesty, it shows.

Yet Vogt shaped its noble Haydnesque Adagio to perfection, and the musicians made the most of sprightly dialogues in undistinguished development sections. Nevertheless, what a life journey Mozart must have experienced between writing this and his final three symphonic masterpieces, just four years later.

Classical review
What: NZSO Orchestra — Lars Vogt plays Mozart
Where: Auckland Town Hall

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