What would happen if you brought an orchestra together which was comprised of principal players from a slew of different organizations such as The LA Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, and, of course, the San Diego Symphony?
You could have, maybe, eight concertmasters in the violin section. The rest of the strings could be filled out with first chairs from the other orchestras.
The woodwinds and brass would almost all be principal players as well.
Wouldn't that be amazing? In reality, it is amazing and it is the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
I caught their concert at the Balboa Theater on June 18 and it was — how shall I say this? Badass.
The concert was programmed and conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto. The program neatly framed Mozart with Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert but didn’t actually include Mozart. However, I wasn’t complaining because — remember? — badass performance.
What do I mean by badass?
If there were ever a West-Side-Story-esque-a-la-Anchorman-news-fight orchestra death match, this group would cut you and maybe choke you out, in a very musical and artistic way. You might even thank them afterwards.
During Schubert’s Symphony No. 2 I thought the violin section might “bow” their own faces off with their nonstop bobbing and weaving. That is badass — it’s a good thing. Nay, it’s a great thing.
The musicians I could see, primarily the string players, appeared to be having the time of their lives performing together. They communicated to each other with a series of knowing looks, head bobs, and smiles? Yes, smiles and their smiles made me smile.
The concert started with Haydn’s Symphony No. 102 and was followed by Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.
There are several famous openings in Beethoven’s music: the first heartbeats of Romanticism in the Third Symphony, the forceful interruption of the Fifth Symphony, and the mournful arpeggios of the Moonlight Sonata, but my favorite start in any of Beethoven’s music is the piano’s statement in the Fourth Piano Concerto.
The soloist Jorge Federico Osorio got off to a slow start but by the first movement cadenza he was in the flow. His lamentation in the 2nd movement was gorgeous while the strings, presumably, preached to him about the underworld.
Schubert’s Symphony No. 2 concluded the concert. I can’t say how thrilled I was to hear this music. We get lots of Schubert’s 8th and 9th symphonies, a little bit of the 5th, but the 2nd? Never.
The music bookended the concert beautifully with Haydn’s 102 as Schubert emulated Haydn’s slow opening followed by an energetic first movement.
There was an air of triumph around the Maestro Prieto as he led the all-star orchestra through the evening. He concluded each piece with a flourish of energy worthy of a prize fighter. In the aforementioned West Side Story orchestra brawl, he would be Tony, for sure.