So far at this year's Mostly Mozart Festival, now in its final week, there's been a fair amount of Mozart, a bit of Haydn, and a whole lot of Beethoven. There have also been smatterings of contemporary music - most notably the world premiere of John Luther Adams' Sila - but most of the new music offerings are happening this week, with ICE performing three concerts at the Park Avenue Armory and Steve Schick performing Adams' The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies in the Clark Studio Theater on Wednesday.
Romanticism seems to be the dominant flavor at this year's festival, and on Friday night the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and their music director, Louis Langrée, went for broke with a performance of Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique: a watershed work that is as wild and woolly as any music ever written. Still, as lush and exotic as this music sounds to modern ears, it was written way back in 1830, only six years after Beethoven completed his 9th symphony (which the MMFO played just two nights earlier.)
But, while you can get away with performing the 9th with a classical-sized orchestra like the MMFO, there's no such thing as a period-orchestra Symphonie Fantastique: Berlioz's score specifies more than 90 instrumentalists, including four harps, four bassoons, more than 60 string players and huge batteries of brass and percussion. (Bells, anyone?) I didn't count quite that many players on stage at Avery Fisher Hall, but clearly Lincoln Center brought in some extra help for this one.