FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS BOCA
RUSSIAN NATIONAL ORCHESTRA
ALONDRA DE LA PARRA/SIR JAMES AND LADY JEANNE GALWAY/CONRAD TAO
MOZART/OVERTON/SCHUBERT (3-12-08) 
FLUTES ARE MAGICAL AT MIZNER

By Lawrence Budmen

The flute duets of Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway were the marquee attraction that brought a large audience to Mizner Park’ s Count de Hoernle Amphitheater on Wednesday at Festival of the Arts Boca. 

Major debuts by 27 year old Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra (who substituted for the indisposed Teodor Currentzis) and 13 year old pianist Conrad Tao aroused considerable musical excitement, backed by the impressive Russian National Orchestra. 

After four decades as a solo artist, Galway still brings a golden sound to Mozart. In the Flute Concerto No.2 in D Major, Galway captured the music’s sunny disposition and sly wit. Galway’s pure tone and near perfect articulation sang out ecstatically in the darker Adagio ma non troppo, for once given proper weight and depth of spirit, and shaped the Rondeau with the winning brio of a patrician Mozartean. 

With his wife Jeanne, Galway whizzed through David Overton’s The Magic Flutes, an irresistible cavalcade of themes from Mozart’s operas, solo instrumental and orchestral scores.

As an encore, the Galways etched Overton’s tongue in cheek transcription of Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca from the Piano Sonata in A Major with nimble lightness and delightful ornamentation. In solo bon-bons, Sir James brought his trademark tonal extravagance to the traditional Danny Boy and lightning speed to the fanciful court dances of the Badinerie from the Suite No.2 in B minor of J.S. Bach. 

In Mozart’s dramatic Piano Concerto No.20 in D minor, Tao exhibited mature musicality, rock solid technique and impassioned ardor, bringing aristocratic inflection and moments of sweeping virtuosity to the second movement Romance. 

This phenomenal prodigy’s heaven storming view of the final Rondo was exciting, leavened by graceful phrasing and the pianist’s own cadenzas that swirled with high wire drama and devilish complexity.

De la Parra, who counts Marin Alsop and Kurt Masur among her mentors, commenced the evening with a brisk, enlivening reading of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro Overture Her accompaniment to Tao’s striking concerto performance was often heavy handed and marred by untidy playing.

But De la Parra’s approach to Schubert’s Symphony No.8 in B minor (Unfinished) was authoritative. Her compelling synthesis of the score’ s tragic subtext and singing thematic lines brought Beethovenesque grandeur and high drama. 

The orchestra’s plush strings had a field day and the mellow clarinet solo rang out with anguished emotion. 


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