by Robert Leeper
Photo credit: Richard Termine, The Wall Street Journal
A lot has been made of the "newness" of the Mostly Mozart Festival, most recently by yours truly. From FoM to The New York Times, people are spouting accolades for the new-and-improved Festival, and with good reason. Occasionally, however, it pays to step back and let the orchestra run through some works from the handful of composers with which it has traditionally been associated—like last night's concert of Mozart and Tchaikovsky at Avery Fisher Hall.
The Festival Orchestra delivered an absolutely astounding performance of Mozart's Symphony No. 36, "Linz." The group produced a clean, robust sound, no doubt aided by Mozart's subtle use of horns and percussion. Longtime Music Director Louis Langrée's control over the orchestra was unwavering—able to switch directions on a dime in order to accommodate the abrupt dynamic changes, making the ensemble sound like a completely different group from that which played Brahms on Saturday.
During the Minuet Langrée abandoned his baton, using only his hands to paint the Hayden-esque country dance, emphasizing smooth lines and keeping a light airy feel around the music. Langrée's warm, excitable personality extended to every section of the orchestra, culminating in well-deserved applause—especially for the woodwind and horn sections, who stood at Langrée's beckoning, and received a particularly exuberant cheer from the crowd.