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Mozart the Performer/Composer

Simon Keefe & John Irving (fortepiano)

St Pancras Room, Kings Place, London, 16 April 2011

This study day, attended by a dozen people, was the second of only two events in the long running Kings Place Mozart Unwrapped series to draw attention to the keyboard instruments of Mozart's own times (for the first orchestral concert a fortepiano had been brought into service at the last moment).

Professor Simon Keefe took some two and a half hours telling us that Mozart was a prodigious performer from earliest age, illustrated by confirmatory contemporary correspondence and, by devoting most of his time to examination of minutiae in autograph scores of the piano concertos, he demonstrated that the mature Mozart was equally concerned with the orchestral parts, making virtuosic changes alongside a balance of expressive "virtu".

Small examples of changes in his surviving manuscripts, such as the one above, establish that he was equally concerned with technical and expressive aspects. All the musicians need to listen to each other for best results...

Some audience members (they seemed to be mostly elderly non professional music enthusiasts) told me afterwards that told me afterwards that they would have found it helpful to have had these cogent points illustrated with recordings to leaven the lecture*.

It had not been made clear in advance that John Irving's contribution (to include one concerto in Mozart's chamber version with a string quartet of Guildhall students) was to be confined to the afternoon. Because Prof. Keefe's morning session unfortunately overran (there being no chairman), John Irving's session started late and another commitment prevented me from staying for part of Irving's session.

It is unfortunate that consideration of appropriate instruments was otherwise excluded from the whole of the Mozart Unwrapped series and, indeed, that Kings Place still does not own a suitable fortepiano, because importing a wood-framed instruments for particular events entails acclimatisation and lengthy retuning [R].

Peter Grahame Woolf

* leavĀ·en tr.v. - - To pervade with a lightening, enlivening, or modifying influence [TheFreeDictionary].