Program ranges from one of Mozart’s earliest to one of his last works
By Peter Alexander April 13 at 10:10 p.m.
Elliot Moore says that he needs a little Mozart right now.
“It’s been such a terrible time,” he says of the past year. “Mozart’s music is what I need. This is important to who I am.”
As conductor of the Longmont Symphony (LSO), Moore is in a position to fill that need. And we can all benefit when the LSO presents “A Portrait of Mozart,” a concert featuring works from Mozart’s very earliest years until nearly the last work he wrote. The concert stream will be available at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 17. You may purchase tickets here.
The program opens with the Overture to La finta semplice, K51, Mozart’s very first opera written when he was 12. That is followed by one of his very last completed works, the Clarinet Concerto, K622, featuring Colorado Symphony principal clarinetist Jason Shafer as soloist.
The program concludes with a symphony that falls between these works, the Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K183. Known as the “Little G-minor Symphony” to distinguish it from Mozart’s late Symphony in G minor, K550, it is the first of Mozart’s symphonies to find a permanent place on orchestral programs.
Moore has wrapped the concert into a larger project to make Mozart better known. In addition to the concert itself, there will be a pre-concert discussion about Mozart’s life on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, that is open to concert ticketholders, and Moore has created a reading list for anyone who wants to go deeper into Mozart’s life. All the details of Moore’s “Mozart Mania” can be found on the LSO Web page.
The concert and the project to explore Mozart’s life “is something that I feel is important to who I am,” Moore says. “It’s a way to have some kind of a shared experience that we have not had in over a year, and that’s part of the reason that I had the idea to do this.”
The opera overture “is remarkable for a 12-year old,” Moore says. “I’m not sure it’s much more than that, but I think it’s extraordinary to see some of the first orchestral music a 12-year-old Mozart wrote.”
The overture also provides background to Mozart’s professional life. La finta semplice was written when the boy Mozart was visiting Vienna. His father, Leopold, hoped to have it produced by the court opera, but he made the mistake of overpromoting the work, which annoyed members of the royal family and some of the court musicians. Later the Empress Maria Theresa, who had relatives all over Europe, discouraged her family members from hiring Mozart, describing Leopold and other members of the family as “useless people.”
In other words, this opera, written he was 12, “set the tone for Mozart not being able to get a job” for the rest of his life, Moore says.
Moore chose K183, the “Little G-minor” Symphony, for two reasons. First, it is considered Mozart’s first fully mature symphony, and as such marks a milestone in the composer’s development.
The other reason is more practical. “I needed to find a work where we could actually fit onstage,” Moore explains. Because Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum is limited in size, the orchestra had to be limited as well. Other symphonies he might have chosen required too many players. “It’s a very tricky balance to put on these kind performances in a pandemic!” Moore says.
Mozart wrote his Clarinet Concerto in October of 1791, a mere two months before his death. It was written for Anton Stadler, a friend of the composer for whom the concerto, the Clarinet Quintet, and obligato clarinet parts in Mozart’s last opera, La clemenza di Tito, were written. When Mozart rushed to Prague for the premiere of the opera in September 1791, Stadler travelled in the same carriage with the composer and his wife, Constanza.
Stadler was clearly a virtuoso player. The concerto is difficult enough to play well on modern instruments; on the clarinets of his day, it would be a supreme challenge.
It was most likely written for a “basset clarinet,” a clarinet with extended range. That was a custom-made instrument that Stadler owned and played. Few players today have a basset clarinet, but the concerto is well known in a version adapted to the standard modern instrument.
“It’s a phenomenal piece,” Moore says. “There’s something about the second movement—I ask myself, did he know that this was going to be one of the last slow movements he wrote? I don’t know if I’ll ever know the answer, but boy is it great to be onstage making music.”
Moore is delighted not only to be onstage performing Mozart, but also to share Mozart with the audience. “I have been drawn to Mozart since March 2020, because it makes me feel good,” he says. “If we can share that, and delve a little deeper into this man’s life, it will enrich all our lives.
“At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”
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“A Portrait of Mozart”
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Jason Shafer, clarinet
Mozart: Overture to La finta semplice, K51 (46a)
Mozart: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, K622
Mozart: Symphony in G minor, K183
Stream available 7 p.m. Saturday, April 17
Tickets available here.
The concert will be preceded by a Pre-Concert Talk on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15 that is available to concert ticketholders. For details on this and other activities around the concert, visit the Longmont Symphony Web page.