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By John Sidgwick

LONDON, 25 SEPTEMBER 2007— The music of Mozart. Simple and direct? Superficially so. Yet why is it that some of the world’s finest performing musicians, whilst ready to face up to the demands of composers such as Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, hesitate when it comes to Mozart. In a recent BBC radio interview, Dietrich Fischer Diskau confessed to feelings of inadequacy when he was called upon to sing Mozart and that on the whole he would rather have avoided the task. The great American violinist, Miriam Solovieff, who died in Paris in 2004, was in the habit of warning the many gifted young artists who came to her for advice that only with the passing of time would they acquire an understanding of Mozart’s music. It was a question of being able to combine spectacular performance with great purity and an almost complete forgetfulness of self. She held that Mozart was essentially a medium, a view expressed by Schaeffer in his play, Amadeus .

Recently, at the Barbican, Jennifer Pike revealed that at the age of 17, she has instinctively achieved this understanding. Her performance of Mozart’s Violin Concerto N° 3 in G major was a model of limpidity allied to the highest technical elegance and competence. But Miss Pike is no stranger to maturity. She startled the musical world by winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award at the age of 12 and at each of her concerts, critics have almost invariable felt obliged to comment on her remarkable maturity, never more evident than when she plays with an orchestra. Throughout last night’s performance, Miss Pike enchanted us with her perception of this, the most luminous of Mozart’s violin concertos. And the orchestra responded in like manner. But that is one of the characteristics of this remarkable artist. She has the gift of getting whoever she is performing with to raise their game.

The concert opened with the strings of the orchestra giving an excellent rendition of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto N° 3. The expanded orchestra was a little less happy in the second half of the concert when they confronted the demands of Brahms’ First Symphony. There was some excellent playing, but one could not but help feeling that this work was not exactly their cup of tea.

John Sidgwick writes on classical music in Britain and France for Culturekiosque.com. 

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