Mostly Mozart in New York: Langrée & Biss

Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, K466
Mass in C minor, K427

Jonathan Biss (piano)

Sandrine Piau (soprano)
Tove Dahlberg (mezzo-soprano)
Gregory Turay (tenor)
Patrick Carfizzi (bass-baritone)

Russian Patriarchate Choir
Concert Chorale of New York

Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
Louis Langrée

Reviewed by: Susan Stempleski

Reviewed: 27 August, 2005
Venue: Avery Fisher Hall, New York City

This year’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York ended with an appealing concert offering performances of two essential and well-paired minor-key works of Mozart. The program opened with a lithe, crisp and elegant reading of Mozart’s D minor Piano Concerto with Jonathan Biss as soloist. On the whole, this was a small-scale performance that succeeded in bringing out the luminosity in the piece, but revealed few of the brooding undercurrents implicit in the work’s key. Mozart did not write down his cadenzas for this dramatic concerto, but the work is one that Beethoven played and for which he wrote cadenzas. In this performance Biss used Beethoven’s cadenza for the opening movement and a brief but brilliant one of his own in the finale. The orchestral playing was felicitous throughout, especially that of the woodwinds. Louis Langrée elicited delicate playing from the orchestra that perfectly matched the soloist’s conception.

For the second half, Langrée led an energetic and sensitive performance of Mozart’s unfinished Mass in C minor. For this concert, the forty choristers of the Concert Chorale of New York were joined by the dozen members of the Russian Patriarchate Choir, who added noticeable power and heft to the tenor and bass sections. The choral singing was always vivid and voluptuous, and the solo quartet was first rate. The two female soloists deserve special mention and were especially impressive in their coloratura passages. Sandrine Piau, a veteran of William Christie’s ensemble Les Arts Florissants, was positively radiant in the “Et incarnatus est”, easily handling its renowned difficulties, and Tove Dahlberg gave a brilliant and moving account of the “Laudamus te”. The male soloists are not given much to do in this piece, but Gregory Turay’s sweet-sounding tenor was sufficiently affective, and Patrick Carfizzi gave a brief but impressive performance.

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