Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19: Mitsuko Uchida and the Cleveland Orchestra

Mozart’s mature piano concertos are sublime dramas without words. They are filled with a magical sense of instrumental conversation. Each phrase seems to have drifted out of some imaginary opera scene in which literal meaning has been replaced with a deeper and more fundamental expressive reality. The instrumental voices form a rich and colorful cast of characters. Blurring the boundaries between solo and accompaniment, the solo piano and orchestral voices engage as equals. We …

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Remembering Radu Lupu

The great Romanian pianist, Radu Lupu, passed away earlier this week. According to his manager, Lupu “died peacefully in his home in Switzerland from numerous long-term illnesses.” He was 76 years old. In 1966, Radu Lupu was awarded the first prize at the second Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. He went on to win first prizes at the George Enescu International Piano Competition and the Leeds International Piano Competition. Lupu’s playing was filled …

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Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor: Shadowy and Tempestuous

Throughout the music of Mozart, D minor evokes shadowy supernatural forces. It is the central key of Mozart’s Requiem, as well as the searing aria that is sung by the Queen of the Night in the second act of The Magic Flute. The most haunting moments of Don Giovanni are set in D minor, beginning with the Overture’s blood-chilling opening chord. The Overture’s slow introduction foreshadows the ghostly Commendatore Scene, which occurs near the end of the opera, …

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Kiri Te Kanawa Sings Mozart: Pamina’s Aria from “The Magic Flute”

The second act of Mozart’s The Magic Flute contains one of opera’s most beautifully wrenching expressions of despair and lament. Pamina, the daughter of the demonic Queen of the Night, is hurt when Tamino will not speak to her. Not realizing that Tamino is bound by a vow of silence, she believes that he no longer loves her. Ach, ich fühl’s (“Ah, I can feel it”) is Pamina’s intimate, heartbroken soliloquy. It is set in G …

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Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter”: Celebratory Contrapuntal Fireworks

Mozart’s final symphony stands as a triumphant apotheosis. Symphony No. 41 in C Major concluded the monumental symphonic trilogy (Nos. 39, 40, and 41) that Mozart wrote over the course of two months during the summer of 1788. For the 32-year-old composer, it was a time of personal and professional loss. In Vienna, Mozart’s popularity was in decline as the city’s notoriously fickle audiences turned their attention elsewhere. Funding from aristocratic patrons evaporated …

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Remembering Edita Gruberová

Edita Gruberová, the Slovak coloratura soprano, passed away in Zurich on October 18. She was 74. Gruberová made her operatic debut in 1968 at Bratislava’s National Theatre, performing the role of Rosina in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. In 1970, she escaped communist Czechoslovakia and appeared at the Vienna State Opera as the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. She would remain closely associated with this role throughout her career. In …

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Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major: A Parisian Sojourn

In April of 1778, the 22-year-old Mozart traveled to Paris in an attempt to broaden his horizons and further his career. The trip was less than successful and in letters home Mozart complained about the city’s dirty streets and residents, whom he found “rude and obnoxious, filled with arrogance and obsessed with self-importance.” One of the pieces that resulted from Mozart’s Parisian sojourn was the Concerto for Flute and Harp in C …

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