This nicely balanced program, representing Mozart’s work in Vienna and Prague, opened with a refreshing account of the majestic and expansive C-major Piano Concerto. Christian Zacharias was the meticulous soloist, defining each note with crystalline clarity, glinting in the outer movements, his cadenza for the first one thematically related, and he added some perfectly elegant ornamentation in the contemplative Andante. Throughout, pianist and orchestra intertwined effortlessly, and there were characterful woodwind contributions. Also from Vienna in 1786, ‘Ch’io mi scordi di te?’, written for Nancy Storace. If the piano obbligato (Mozart himself) is essential, executed flawlessly by Zacharias, the soprano holds the center of attention. Rosa Feola sang the lover’s lament with the perfect balance of sophistication and passion – magnificent and also heartbreaking.
The second half took us to Prague a year later. The deeply emotional ‘Bella mia fiamma’ finds Titano, a mortal hero condemned to death, bidding farewell to life and his beloved spouse, the goddess Proserpina. Feola, fiery and ardent as the male hero, sang a sumptuous and tremendously moving rendition of Michele Sarcone’s text, intensified by Mozart’s music. The concert ended with a graceful reading of the ‘Prague’ Symphony, presented in that city as an envoi to Le nozze di Figaro. The sparkle and spontaneity of the playing was a delight, the central Andante (there is no Minuet) beautifully flowing and deeply felt, and the Finale enjoyed light and crisp articulation.