The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra presented the third of three concerts devoted to Mozart and Schubert last night. The venue was the Theater of the Musical Instrument Museum. Its a sleek and comfortable auditorium ideal for smaller scale compositions.
The program began with the Overture to La Clemenza di Tito, Mozart’s penultimate opera. The scaled down orchestra played well under the PSO’s assistant conductor Matthew Kaspar. The strings were a little harsh for my taste, but every note was articulated with precision and clarity. Two arias from the same opera – ‘Parto, parto ma tu ben mio’ and ‘Deh, per questo istante’ were sung by the young American mezzo Katherine Beck. Ms Beck has a formidable voice which handled the runs and coloratura passages of both pieces with remarkable facility for a singer at the beginning of her career. A little more luster to her sound would have been ideal, but still a fine performance.
Another young American singer, tenor Bille Bruely concluded the first half of the evening with two more Mozart arias – ‘Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön’ from Die Zauberflöte and ‘Fuor del mar’ from Idomeneo. Both are demanding and Mr Bruely struggled a bit with them. His voice seems destined for comprimario roles.
The highlight of the concert was violinist Jing Zeng’s reading of mozart’s 3rd Violin Concerto. A member of the PSO’s first violin section, Ms Zeng has a deft techniques combined with a lyric line. She brought out all the beauty inherent in Mozart’s youthful work. She could easily make a career as a soloist if such were her wish.
The final work was Schubert’s Symphony #5. Touched by God seems too weak a phrase to describe Schubert’s genius. Embraced is a better word. The symphony, was written when its composer was 19 – the same age as Mozart’s when he wrote the violin concerto that preceded the symphony. The orchestra played the work with the vigor and charm this delightful work exudes.
A brief word about the MIM. It seems to be in a relatively remote part of the city. It’s collection of musical instruments and it’s devotion to music in general merits a visit on its own.