Mostly (Not) Mozart
Ok, I may not be the world's biggest Mozart fan, but I am a big believer in Truth in advertising. So, what's up with this year's Mostly Mozart? I did the math: less than 30% of the works on this year's program were composed by the Amadeus. Last week, it was Aimard splicing Mozart with Haydn, Stockhausen and Ligeti; since then, they've barely bothered with Mozart at all, giving things over to Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, and "Composer-in-Residence" John Adams, who was in town to conduct his 2007 opera A Flowering Tree. Festival director Jane Moss started this composer-in-residence thing two years ago with Osvaldo Golijov; last year, it was Kaija Saariaho. Uh...sorry, Jane. I thought you already had a composer-in-residence?
It seems that Lincoln Center has come to realize that a 21st century festival dedicated to an 18th century composer - no matter how "genius" - is box office poison. Fine. Change the name. Need some suggestions? How about: "Mozart In Context"? Or: "Mozart and his Progeny"? Ok, maybe not... But, you get the idea.
At least Adams, who was back on the podium last night to conduct ICE in three of his chamber work, likes Mozart, claiming that he's inspired by the elder composer's example, if not his music. And, while noone will mistake the relentless sawing of Shaker Loops or Gnarly Buttons' constant jumping for Mozart's Epsom bath of sound, Adams did at least hint at a connection in his program note:
"He was an artist who cared deeply about the give-and-take with his listeners, wanting to delight them just as he wanted to provoke them and arouse their innermost feelings."
Anyone who's witnessed the brutal onslaught of Doctor Atomic, or the quiet beauty of China Gates, or the overwhelming power of Harmonielehre pretty much knows what he's talking about.