Review: Mozart tribute a feast of musical delights
Classical: Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, National Concert Hall
On its first visit here, and directed from its leader's chair by Gottfried von der Goltz, the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra may be relatively small in size, but is decidedly large in quality.
Although devoted to Mozart, there is an air of novelty in its programme in the NCH's International Series this week.
With unusual planning, Mozart's Linz Symphony occupies Part I, but visiting baritone Christian Gerhaher inserts arias between the movements.
To an extent this stifles the Symphony's flow, but then Mozart had little compunction about doing something similar in his time and, with musicianship of exceptional standard, there is really little harm done here.
Part II brings a second soloist, clarinettist Lorenzo Coppola who is heard to ecstatic effect in Mozart's Concerto. The innovation here is his clarinette d'amour, made in Paris in 1998 and is a copy of an instrument for which Mozart wrote his Concerto.
Longer than the regular clarinet, it produces more notes in its lower register and offers greater contrast in its upper one. In an introduction, Sig Coppola explains that, with its clear personal sound, this instrument becomes highly theatrical.
Indeed it does, but to this must be added the haunting beauty of Coppola's interpretation. A wealth of velvety tone and seamless phrasing mingles with nimble fingering and extraordinary breath control. The result is magical in its ethereal sensitivity.
Elsewhere in this feast of musical delights, Christian Gerhaher shows the command of his incisive characterisations in several Mozart arias with Don Giovanni pitted against Leporello and Count Almaviva vying with Figaro.
The latter's Non più andrai has mocking military panache, while Almaviva's vengeful Vedrò mentr'io sospiro crackles with fire and brimstone. On the other hand, Giovanni's encore Serenade, with bewitching mandolin accompaniment, dispels the libertine's charms with beguiling flair.