Monday, January 23, 2012:Different Birthday

A Little Different Birthday

The French, or just plain, horn takes the spotlight for Mozart's birthday Friday at the Theatre of the Estates

The National Theatre Orchestra continues its tradition of presenting an annual concert on Mozart’s birthday (January 27, 1756).

But this Friday, you’ll find something a little different from the typical tourist-program smattering of the most hummable Mozart opera tunes.

That’s because this year’s concert features much-honored horn player Radek Baborák, who will also conduct the orchestra in some not-quite-Top 10 Mozart hits. Mr Baborák began playing the horn at age 8, began garnering prizes while still a teen, and hasn’t stopped since. He has appeared with a long list of international orchestras and recorded many works.

For Friday’s program he’s chosen the following non-opera but “equally brilliant” concertos and symphonies:

Symphony No 32 in G Major (Prelude in G Major)
Divertimento No 7 D Major
Concerto in E-flat Major for Horn and Orchestra No 3
Concerto in D Major for Horn and Orchestra No 1
Symphony No 40 in G Minor, Second Version, the “Great Symphony”

Unfortunately, the National Theatre English website at this writing contains no information about the concert and the press department didn’t respond, but Mr Baborák commented in a Theatre press report on the concert.

He notes that in addition to the famous operas, it’s almost impossible to find a musical form which Mozart didn’t tackle – symphonies, sinfoniettas (think “little” symphonies); concertos (short concerts highlighting one instrument, while the orchestra plays second-fiddle, so to speak); songs, divertimentos (think “diversions”); overtures. He wrote about a half-dozen concertos for French horn, but half of those have been lost. The Concerto No 1 in D Major which will be performed at the birthday concert is also actually only a fragment, and usually when it is performed it’s paired with another of the concertos.

Radek Baborák

Mr Baborák said his goal as the conductor for this concert is to create a balanced sound, so he’s chosen a less traditional, smaller number of musicians and has especially strengthened the viola group.

“It’s the Symphony No. 40 in G Minor that I’m looking forward to the most,” he has said, “because it still should sound glorious even with a smaller number of players.”

A smaller yet still glorious birthday celebration for one of the most brilliant composers is just the ticket if you’d like to get to know Mozart a little more. — oo

– Mary Matz

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