Review: Austin Symphony’s “Mozart Speaks,” via letters and music

Posted on: September 15, 2016

“By today’s standards, it seems Mozart was an unredeemable goofball,” writes Luke Quinton in Tuesday’s (9/13) American-Statesman (Austin, TX). “At the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s season opening concert this weekend at the Long Center, the great composer’s letter to his sister began the show, read aloud by Austin actor Martin Burke. ‘My Dear Sister,’ Mozart’s letter intones again and again … in a writing style that’s … endearing, slightly charming and a couple of centuries later, rather annoying. Yet here’s the thing—hearing the letters read aloud also links us closer to the composer’s music…. This was an original program, conceived by the Austin Symphony and music director Peter Bay…. (In likewise original move for the ASO, Saturday’s concert was livestreamed on Facebook Live.) … In one letter [Mozart] remarks that he’s busy composing a piece of music he expects will sound ‘Turkish,’ and then the ASO plays the exact piece, in the fun, boisterous spirit Mozart was giddily hoping for…. The final letter of ‘Mozart Speaks’ was more serious [and] a considered lead-in to the second half, a performance of Mozart’s Requiem…. Bay and the ASO gave a gorgeously dark opening…. Chorus Austin’s mass of singers … belted out entries with a spine-tingling intensity.”

Posted September 15, 2016