There are stellar performances and then there are revelations. The San Diego Mainly Mozart Festival can be counted on to provide at least one revelation per festival. So far in 2019, there have been at least two. It is the revelatory quality of this orchestra and music director Michael Francis which led me to become a staff member of the organization.
The first revelation was Jeremy Denk and the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 on Saturday, June 8. The festival continued on to Thursday, June 13, with stellar performances by the festival orchestra and pianist Anne-Marie McDermott and then we came to Saturday, June 15.
The concert opened with a stellar performance of Mozart’s David Penetente. This piece recycles music from the Great Mass in C minor but adds some vocal solos and a trio of ridiculous vocal requirements. The soloist, soprano Ellie Dehn, soprano Erica Petrocelli, and tenor Randall Bills, all earned the enormous ovation which followed the conclusion of the piece.
Beethoven's Violin Concerto
With violinist Hilary Hahn, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Published Nov 28, 2017
There was only one other piece of music on the program and that was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with violinist Augustin Hadelich. It was not a stellar performance. It was a revelation.
Hadelich, Francis, and the festival orchestra did not perform Beethoven’s music. They released it from its terrestrial confines. I was expecting transcendent and my expectation was exceeded.
It is no surprise to find quotes about Beethoven’s Violin Concerto such as this one from Hadelich. "Every time I play the slow movement of the Beethoven, I marvel at how perfect, how simple, intimate and human it is. Perhaps it gives us — just for a moment — an insight into some deep fundamental truth of our existence, a glimpse of what lies beyond."
On that Saturday night, we did not receive a glimpse of what lies beyond, we received a detailed vision of the human potential which lies beyond our day-to-day existence. The alignment of the composer, soloist, conductor, orchestra, audience, and venue made this revelation possible.
In many ways, it is the vision of the Enlightenment. Beethoven is often considered to be a romantic but the fact of the matter is that his music embodies the Enlightenment ideals of equality, morality, tolerance, and the brotherhood of all humanity.
Could we or could we not all benefit from an increase of equality, morality, tolerance, and the family-hood of all humanity? I say we could and I say we received a vision of that from Beethoven, Augustin Hadelich, Michael Francis, and the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra.