By Lawrence Budmen

South Beach welcomed the cultural aura of old Vienna on Friday when the music of Mozart and Beethoven resounded from the Lincoln Theater stage with four wind players from the Vienna Philharmonic on hand to provide stylistic authenticity. 

Mozart’s wind serenades were composed as background music for festive parties and weddings of Vienna’s aristocratic and cultural elite. These scores are miraculous pieces by a mature genius whose gift for inspired melodies, plangent harmonies, and contrapuntal invention was as vividly alive as in his contemporaneous symphonies and concertos. 

The key of C minor inspired the Salzburg wunderkind to some of his greatest heights. The Serenade No.12, K.388 (Nacht Musique) is one of his most soulful, pensive works. Hardly a “party piece” in the conventional sense, this 1782 score is replete with drama, emotional contrasts, and contemplative melancholy. 

The Vienesse musicians are steeped in the Central European tradition of wind playing. Their warmly burnished tone, mellow timbres, and radiant phrasing infused every bar of this Mozart gem. With Harald Horth’ s glowing oboe and Andreas Wieser’s aristocratic clarinet leading the ensemble, the C minor Serenade received an impassioned performance. In the final Allegro, the players captured the long arc of ruminative melody that infuses Mozart’ s sublime writing. 

By contrast the Serenade No.11 in E-flat Major, K.375 (1781) is all high spirits and felicitous instrumental writing. Vienna’s Michael Werba essayed the prominent bassoon writing with rich tonal compass and lilting agility. The instrument has rarely sounded so rotund and sweet. While t he penultimate Menuetto radiated joy, the finale was dispatched with taut precision and a panorama of colorful timbres. The splendid horn playing of the Vienna Philharmonic’s Wolfgang Vladar and New World Symphony member Robert Johnson was rousing and festive. 

Beethoven’s Octet in E-flat is a minor work in that master’s creative catalogue. The undistinguished melodic writing of the initial three movements is succeeded by a Presto of Rossinian vivacity and opera buffa élan. With Vladar and Roslyn Black executing the difficult horn trills par excellence and Werba contributing an eloquent solo, the musicians lavished considerable artistry on this curio. Rick Bashmore, an oboist of pristine musicality, and Louis DeMartino, a florid clarinetist, joined the group for the Beethoven and Mozart E-flat serenade. 

As an encore, the ensemble offered a Vienesse bon-bon – Waltz Musette by Heinrich Wolf, played with scintillating verve. 

Copyright Sun-Sentinel


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