It goes without saying that Mozart was a genius, the ultimate prodigious talent who could pick out tunes on the piano at the age of three and at four or five years old had started composing his first pieces of music.
This concert was a celebration of the early Mozart and all the pieces played were composed before he was 15 years old. To think that this sublime music came from the pen of a teenager is amazing. The orchestra performed the overtures from Apollo et Hyacinthus and Bastien und Bastienne as well as the first four piano concertos.
Conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy was an entertaining guide not just to the music but to the role of the conductor. He admitted he “talked too much” in rehearsal and his effusive love and passion for the music was clear and contagious.
In an interesting aside he told of a meeting with the Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. He compared his role as a conductor with that of a football manager. He doesn’t play an instrument and Pep doesn’t kick a ball but they are both in charge. All they want from their players is that they play with their hearts and produce entertainment.
It is clear that the Manchester Camerata orchestra love their conductor and they were certainly playing with all their hearts. It is not often you see smiles on the faces of the players as they play but they were evidently enjoying themselves. Their playing was exquisite and there were delicious moments when they were able to be both dramatic and sensuous at the same time.
The dizzying skill of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet on the piano was a sight not to just to behold but to hear. Seemingly, with consummate ease he produced this heavenly music. There was something transcendent about the way he played and I was captivated by it. He plays with dash, drive and not a little pizazz which was brilliant to watch. Along with Gábor he made a good double act, interceding now and again when the conductor was explaining about the music they were producing.
This was my first visit to The Stoller Hall and it is an intimate space which brings you closer to the music. On their website they describe it as “immersive” and you do get immersed in the concert because the room is so enclosed. It was designed to be a “box in a box” so that “audiences can truly hear, feel and almost see the music.”
That was the feeling I had from this concert. I did feel I could almost see the music and I was in another place away from the day-to-day world, transported inside the mind of this young genius.
If you will forgive me but I have a little side note which is not to do with the concert. In front of me were two people tied to their smartphones which is, I think, rather a rude thing to do during a performance. At a recent theatre outing a young lady sat near to me was also on her phone. What has happened? Why have people stopped being able to behave properly in theatres and concert halls?
Gábor Takács-Nagy revealed that there are plans for them in the coming years to make their way through the complete repertoire of Mozart concertos. I would definitely recommend going to any of these future concerts.
Reviewer: Adam Williams
Reviewed: 6th October 2023
North West End UK Rating: