If the most rewarding moments of a Mainly Mozart Festival concert can occur during the performance of music by other composers, Saturday’s (June 16) Mainly Mozart program made a great case for that possibility with Johannes Moser’s brilliant solo in Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme,” Op. 33, and Stravinsky’s sparkling “Dumbarton Oaks” Concerto.
Living up to its reputation as a citadel of the avant-garde, the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus under the direction of Steven Schick closed its 2017-18 season Sunday (June 10) with two substantial new works: Rand Steiger’s ”Template for Improvising Trumpeter and Orchestra” and Courtney Bryan’s “Yet Unheard,” as well as Gabriel Fauré’s endearing Requiem.
Sunday’s Mainly Mozart concert under the baton of Music Director Michael Francis (June 10) featured the Festival Orchestra augmented by some 15 musicians from the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra, a Piano Concerto commissioned by Mainly Mozart, and a post intermission session in which guest pianist Derek Paravacini took themes and requests from the audience on which he improvised.
Michael Francis and Anne-Marie McDermott Inspire Exotic Fare in Opening Mainly Mozart Festival Concert
Michael Francis opened the 30th installment of San Diego’s annual Mainly Mozart Festival Saturday, June 9, with an ebullient orchestra concert that started with with Jean-Féry Rebel’s harmonically startling, rarely performed Baroque dance suite “Les Élémens,” jumped to Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C Major, K. 415, featuring soloist Anne-Marie McDermott—that composer’s equally assertive attack on late 18th-century Viennese rococo elegance—and closed with Beethoven’s Second Symphony.
Opera superstar Nathan Gunn opened his one man show “Flying Solo” at the Lyceum Theatre. A clever fusion of biography, confessional, and solo recital recounts the story of a high school wrestler from South Bend, Indiana, who makes his way to the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera as its leading baritone.
Guest conductor Edo de Waart’s delightful San Diego Symphony program balanced a tip of the hat to the Bernstein centennial—his evergreen “Candide” Overture—with Francis Poulenc’s show-stopping Concerto for Two Pianos featuring the effusive Naughton sisters and Johannes Brahms’ profound Symphony No. 2 in D Major.