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Thursday, February 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Symphony celebrates legendary composer

By Travis Rivers I Correspondent

Symphony concerts are seldom devoted to a single composer, unless there is an anniversary.

Of course, the three Bs – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms – are regular exceptions. So is Mozart.

“You never need an excuse to do an all-Mozart program,” says Eckart Preu, the Spokane Symphony’s music director. “His music is so challenging and such a pleasure, you can do Mozart anytime.

“We have done all-Beethoven and all-Brahms concerts at The Fox, but not an all-Mozart concert.”

The symphony presents a pair of all-Mozart concerts on Saturday and Sunday to celebrate nothing more than Mozart being Mozart.

Violinist Mateusz Wolski, the symphony’s concertmaster, and Nicholas Carper, its principal violist, will perform the solo parts of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola.

The orchestra will open the concerts with the Overture to “Don Giovanni” and close with the Symphony No. 36 (The “Linz”).

Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante was written when the composer was 23 and had returned to his native Salzburg empty-handed after an unsuccessful job hunting trip to Paris.

Not only had he suffered disappointment in his search for a job and for lucrative commission, Mozart had to bury his mother in Paris when she died there unexpectedly. He was no longer the pampered, feted prodigy, but a young man facing an uncertain world.

“No one really knows why Mozart wrote this Sinfonia Concertante, or for whom,” Preu says. “Maybe he wrote it for his father Leopold and him to play, but there is not any mention that they ever performed it.”

It might have been a peace offering, since Leopold Mozart had berated his son as being responsible for his mother’s death. Who knows?

Mozart biographer Maynard Solomon, a practicing psychiatrist as well as a musicologist, sees the Sinfonia Concertante as the beginning of the composer’s new world.

“There is a shift towards quite unexpected conceptions of beauty,” Solomon writes. “A specifically Mozartian array of beauties emerges – death-tinged, melancholy, painful, containing a mixture of resignation and affirmation.”

But Solomon admits that the beauties of later Mozart are not always filled with anxiety or disturbing moods. He points to the “Linz” Symphony as a work that celebrates “sheer joy and revel(s) in the pleasures of creation.”

Mozart and his wife Constanza were in Linz, Austria, on a delayed honeymoon in the fall of 1783. When he gave a concert there, he wrote to his father: “I don’t have a single symphony with me, So, I’m writing a new one a breakneck speed.”

“Who knows if Mozart already had this symphony composed in his head,” Preu says. “But it is one of his really magnificent symphonies.

“In some ways, I think it is even comparable to his ‘Jupiter’ Symphony. But each symphony is different.”

Preu will open this weekend’s concerts with the overture to Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.” Written in 1787, this opera is the work Solomon would cite as showing that “specifically Mozartian array” of strange and disturbing beauties.

Charles Gounod, the 19th-century French opera composer who wrote “Faust,” said: “Everything in its tremendous overture breathes terror and inspires awe.”

Preu, Wolski and Carper will discuss the music on this weekend’s program in pre-concert talks one hour before each performance.

Wolski became the orchestra’s concertmaster in 2007 and has performed several concertos with the symphony along with the numerous solos required in his role as concertmaster.

He was born in Warsaw and came to the United States as a scholarship student of New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow at the Manhattan School of Music.

Wolski has appeared with orchestras and chamber ensembles in the U.S., England and Europe. He is also first violinist of the Spokane String Quartet.

Carper, too, has performed as a concerto soloist as well as heading the orchestra’s viola section since 2001.

He was born in Spokane and holds degrees in viola performance from Columbus State University and Butler University.

In addition to his appearances with many American orchestras, Carper performs in Spokane’s Inland Northwest Chamber Music Collective and on the symphony’s Chamber Soirée series.

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