Boston Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis Mitsuko Uchida

Symphony No.36 in C, K425 (Linz)
Piano Concerto No.23 in A, K488
Symphony No.2 in B flat, D125

Mitsuko Uchida (piano)

Boston Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 19 January, 2008
Venue: Boston Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts

Mitsuko Uchida The indisputable highlight of this, the first of Sir Colin Davis’s two programs with the Boston Symphony this season, was Mitsuko Uchida’s supremely elegant and sensitive rendition of Mozart’s A major Piano Concerto. Uchida gave a thoughtful, gracefully-shaped reading of the opening Allegro, in which she used Mozart’s own cadenza. Tapping all the Mozartean melancholy in the Adagio, she produced some wonderfully weightless playing and conveyed a sense of delicate dialogue with the streamlined orchestra. After the attractively restrained playing of the first movement, and the gentle wistfulness of the second, she really let loose in a wonderfully spirited rendition of the finale. Sir Colin was an ideal partner, vibrant and responsive, and the BSO players were consistently graceful and alive, with the wind players at their most eloquent at the end of the slow movement.

Sir Colin Davis. Photograph: Hiroyuki ItoMozart’s C major Symphony, which opened the program, is the first of three he wrote with a slow introduction (the ‘Prague’ and No.39 are the others). Written in about four days, on a stopover in the city of Linz on Mozart’s return trip to Vienna from Salzburg, it is a stunningly inventive achievement, full of conflicting impulses. The stately, operatic-like introduction opens out into a spirited Allegro, awash in cheerful melody. The second movement is supremely graceful. The Minuet that follows is courtly, and the Trio playfully rustic. The closing Presto interweaves all these elements and adds some new ideas. Under Sir Colin the orchestra performed brilliantly, with a transparent reading that was full of vitality and charm.

Schubert’s rarely heard Second Symphony concluded the program. This youthful work (Schubert composed it at the age of eighteen) is charming but also dynamic. The energetic and buoyant opening Allegro is followed by an Andante consisting of a highly dramatic theme and five variations. The minuet of the Allegro vivace third movement is snappy, and the vigorous Presto full of motion. Sir Colin drew glowing and intense playing from the orchestra in a performance that brought out all the genial charm of the writing, most exhilaratingly in the high-spirited finale. The BSO winds came across with wonderfully refined playing, especially principal flute Elizabeth Rowe’s solo in the opening movement, and the section’s spirited ensemble work in the finale. The string playing was lithe throughout the work, and performed with astonishing energy in the whirlwind passages of the first and final movements.

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