Columbus Symphony This Weekend: Haydn and Mozart

Conductor Matthew Halls, with the Columbus Symphony this weekend(Photo: Bach Cantatas Website)
Conductor Matthew Halls, with the Columbus Symphony this weekend(Photo: Bach Cantatas Website)

It’s nearly an all Mozart weekend with the Columbus Symphony. Amadeus himself would want room left for his beloved Haydn, whose Te Deum opens the program this weekend at the Ohio Theater. The concerts will also showcase the splendid, all volunteer Columbus Symphony Chorus.

Guest conductor for the performances is Matthew Halls. Earlier in the week, I received several calls advising me that he is a great musician. His career began with the Kings Singers, the first and best all male vocal band to hit the charts. Josquin, Gesualdo, Mendelssohn and U-2, you name it they sing it.

If it sounds like an idiot for maintaining that Mozart is astounding. So be it.

We’ll hear his setting of the Marian hymn Regina Coeli  this weekend. This, the first of three such settings was tossed off while Mozart was in Milan preparing his opera Lucio Silla.

Both works are astonishing not only in their beauty but in their emotional depth. The miracle is they were both written by a 13-year-old, and were by no means Mozart’s earliest music.

Soprano Gillian Keith joins us from Toronto for the solo turns in Regina Coeli, and for the motet Exsultate Jubilate. Exult, rejoice indeed! That this piece is perfectly written to showcase the soprano voice ironic.

Mozart wrote this for Venanzio Rauzzini, the castrato sensation who had starred in Lucio Silla. Rauzzini was not exactly a soprano, but a castrato and if you don’t know I’m not about to tell you.

The summer of 1788 was the last Mozart spent at the top of his game. His operas Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni were doing well and he had a little money in his pocket, although it didn’t last. This was the summer of his final three symphonies, the very last-number 41 in C we hear this weekend.

Mozart always wrote on commission. Not so the Jupiter, which was nicknamed after the composer’s death, and we know of no performance during the composer’s lifetime. In 1829, the publisher Novello visited Constance Mozart and her son-and Franz Xavier Mozart claimed that the finale of the Jupiter was his father’s best work. Who’s to say no?

Haydn was always at the top of his game, and Mozart invented a new higher game. The Columbus Symphony and Columbus Symphony Chorus present Mozart at the beginning and towards the end of his brief and miraculous career, this weekend in the Ohio Theater.

Pre-concert talks one hour before each performance, if I do say so myself.

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