Wednesday night's concert by the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall was a microcosm of what the Mostly Mozart Festival has become under directors Jane Moss and Louis Langree: namely, a seamless blend of contemporary and classic, each illuminating the other through the prism of time. The first half of the program had Luciano Berio's "Rendering" (1990), built around Schubert's sketches of his unfinished Tenth Symphony. Led by contemporary-music specialist Susanna Malkki (who also led ICE's concert on Sunday), Berio orchestrated Schubert's sketches much as Schubert would have himself while filling the gaps with strange, dreamlike music that was both challenging and deeply affecting. By the end of the half-hour long, three-movement piece, I could hear classic elements in the contemporary parts, and vise versa; whether or not this was just in my head wasn't entirely clear.
After intermission, Garrick Ohlsson joined the orchestra to play Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto, a warhorse among warhorses. It wasn't a perfectly clean performance—Ohlsson flubbed few notes, and Malkki unexpectedly cut him off during the first movement cadenza (which was Beethoven's own)—but Ohlsson played with power and conviction, pounding away at the Steinway as if possessed. At the end, he received a standing ovation, and rightly so.
For an encore, Ohlsson returned to repertoire with which he is much more familiar: namely, Chopin's Waltz in E-flat, Op. 18. Ohlsson's fingers flew effortlessly across the keyboard, adding all sorts of little adornments to help liven up this well-worn standard. Simply effervescent—and quietly thrilling.
More pics on the photo page.