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Jeff Spurgeon: On this concert from Carnegie Hall, you're going to hear a master of the piano. One of the greatest interpreters of Mozart, pianist and Carnegie Hall Perspectives artists: Mitsuko Uchida, along with an ensemble she's had a relationship with for the last 10 years, The Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Being a Perspectives Artist at Carnegie Hall allows Mitsuko to curate and explore musical discoveries throughout the season. I'm Jeff Spurgeon, backstage at Carnegie Hall alongside John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: And Mitsuko Uchida will be curating and exploring three pieces in the concert tonight with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Two of them are late piano concertos by Mozart- Piano Concerto 25 and 27. In between them, no, not Number 26, but rather the Chamber Symphony Number 1 by Arnold Schoenberg. So, you have some Viennese music from the first classical period, and then some Viennese music from the second classical period. The Schoenberg is an early work. He was still working with tonality and Schoenberg himself referred to himself as quote, a pupil of Mozart. And Jeff. Um, we say piano concerto 25, 27. Musicians often refer to Mozart's pieces by their K numbers.
Jeff Spurgeon: Same way as with Beethoven sonatas that are a particular number. But the, the, uh, pianists will, will use another.
John Schaefer: They'll usually use opus numbers.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes, that's right.
John Schaefer: And the reason for that is, you know, Mozart wrote a Divertimento in D and then a few years later he wrote another Divertimento in D and the only way to tell them apart is the K number. K stands for Köchel. Ludwig Köchel did the definitive catalog of, of Mozart's music. And generally speaking, the higher the number, the later the work. And these two piano concerti have numbers well into the 500's. So, they're later works.
Jeff Spurgeon: There's 625 or so works that Mozart wrote. So, this concert tonight begins with the Piano Concerto No. 25, K. 503. At the time, Mozart was writing these pieces, he was making his living in Vienna, well, attempting to make his living in Vienna with subscription concerts. He was the sponsor of them. He sold the tickets, he, uh, created the works and performed them as well. And so, it's most likely that Mozart debuted these two works with himself as the soloist at the keyboard.
It's the time of very prolific work by Mozart. He wrote a dozen piano concertos in the years 1784, 5, and 6. Many of these pieces don't have any dynamic markings or articulation markings in the piano part, in the score. And, uh, Mitsuko Uchida's interpretations are so precious. She is a revered interpreter of these works.
John Schaefer: And a passionate speaker about these concertos. Uh, we recently spoke with her about the works on this program, and as you'll hear, she is one of the musicians who refers to these, uh, concertos by their Köchel numbers. Uh, here's what she said about Concerto number 25, Köchel 503.
Mitsuko Uchida: Among them all, I think 503 is possibly the most glorious of them all. And very strangely unexpected moments. So deep. And there is one moment in the last movement that is possibly the most unexpected moment in any music. I would almost call it. For example, the sudden change in Allegretto [vocalizes]
as if it was so happy and it was going to be. And it's brilliant and it's, it's so much happening. And then at, at a given point there is, there's minor and you don't know what is going to happen. And there is, he mixes some attach exchanges of majors and minors. All, all the time this exchange in this piece. Then suddenly yam bam bam. And then single double bass and piano, [vocalizes]… suddenly unimaginable.
Jeff Spurgeon: And so some of the passion of Mitsuko Uchida in describing these Mozart works that she'll be performing tonight, two of them. But all three of the works on this concert will be performed with the Mahler, uh, with and by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. This ensemble began back in the mid-1980s when Italian, uh, conductor Claudio Abbado started the Mahler Youth Orchestra, one of the number of ensembles that Abbado created in his lifetime.
And as the players aged out of the Mahler Youth Orchestra, some of them said, "Hey, this was fun. Can't we keep it going?" So, they started the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in 1997, 45 members from 20 countries. They tour Europe and much of the rest of the world, and they're celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, counting 40 countries and five continent, five continents on their tours. Sorry.
John Schaefer: And, and, and as we mentioned, Mitsuko Uchida has worked with them for about a decade and continues to enjoy that collaboration even with, as you might expect, the inevitable personnel changes.
Mitsuko Uchida: Very, very special relation. And as it's a chamber orchestra, most particularly European chamber orchestras, it is so difficult for them to survive. And this one particularly, the membership changes all the time because you can't, you can't just live from doing the Mahler Chamber Orchestra only. So, it is pleasure job. And they, most of the players have day jobs and yet when you are, you get together and you play together, they gang up and play as Mahler Chamber Orchestra. And there is some sort of complete dedication. And that is something that I so love, and I do know most of the players very, very well. And I know who, when I see the list of people, then I know what to expect.
Jeff Spurgeon: And for an orchestra that may be a side gig for some of the players, this organization has a full performance schedule this year. They're going to make stops in Lucerne, Switzerland, concertizing in Italy, and Germany and Belgium. And in addition to Mitsuko Uchida, they have other artistic partners, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and their longstanding artistic advisor is Daniele Gatti.
John Schaefer: And just to be clear, when Mitsuko Uchida refers the musicians having day jobs, what she really means is evening jobs. They're not, they're not bankers or plumbers. They are musicians in other ensembles, other orchestras. Um, now for the, uh, the Mozart works on this program, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra will be conducted from the keyboard by Mitsuko Uchida. That is something she started to do back in the 1980s. And the applause that you hear here at Carnegie Hall is for the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as they file onto the stage.
And Mitsuko Uchida conducting while she plays the piano. This, Jeff, is probably the way Mozart debuted these pieces in his own subscription concerts.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's right. And we should, uh, mention so that you can visualize what we are able to see. Uh, the piano is not set, uh, perpendicular to the stage. Mitsuko Uchida's back will be to the audience.
And this great big Hamburg Steinway that's in Carnegie Hall is, uh, there without a lid on. Uh, and so, uh, surrounding the piano are all the players of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. And so, Mitsuko Uchida will be able to look at the orchestra as a conductor would, even though she's sitting at the keyboard as she plays.
John Schaefer: And with the lid off, it not only gives her, uh, an idea of what the sound is like coming back at her.
It also gives all of the musicians on the right side of the stage, audience left side a chance to actually see her, which they would have a very difficult time doing if, if the lid were still attached.
Jeff Spurgeon: I'd just like to think of it as a, a bottle of wine. It just sounds better if you'd leave the cap off and let it breathe a little bit. And that's what's happening with the piano tonight. So, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra are now all on stage. As you hear, they have tuned up and our soloist is standing by as well. Just waiting for a cue to go on stage and to open this amazing concert of two Mozart piano concertos and, uh, a little Schoenberg in between. So, uh, a Schoenberg sandwich, I guess, we can call this evening.
John Schaefer: And we will begin with the Mozart Piano Concerto Number 25 in C Major. The Köchel listing is 503. You heard Mexico Uchida refer to it as the 503. She is now striding to center stage here at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: The players rose up as she walked out, and so they're all on stage facing the audience together. Little chat from Mitsuko to the concert master. She turns to the audience. They are obviously delighted to see her. And she sits down at the keyboard and it's Mozart’s K 503 in C from Carnegie Hall Live with Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
MUSIC - Mozart: Piano Concerto in C Major No. 25, K. 503
From Carnegie Hall Live, you've just heard a performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto Number 25, K 503 in the catalog, a performance by Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Great cheers erupting from this audience at Carnegie Hall. And enthusiastic applause expressed by the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra as well.
And in fact, in a way, Mitsuko's first bow was to the orchestra members. She put her hand to her heart, an appreciation for their very enthusiastic ovation, quiet, waving their bows as string players do. And now offstage Mitsuko Uchida for just a moment. But she'll go back to, uh, take the audience's appreciation in once again. Backstage at Carnegie Hall, I'm Jeff Spurgeon, alongside John Schaefer. There she goes.
John Schaefer: And you can tell that this audience just loves Mitsuko Uchida, and she is loved for her, her just a special way that she has with Mozart and Schubert and Beethoven, as well as, uh, the second Viennese school, which will be represented momentarily by a work by Arnold Schoenberg. Interesting ,um, some of the practicalities, you know, music is an art, but it is also a craft. And there are practical things that have to be attended to. We talked before about the fact that there's no lid on her piano, so she can see the orchestra, they can see her, she can hear them because she's conducting. And Mozart, you know, would've conducted this piece himself when he debuted it in the 1780s. And because he was his own soloist and conductor, it meant that if he was in a rush, he didn't have to quite finish the score before the performance. So, the cadenza, the part where the orchestra drops away and just the piano soloist, you know, plays, takes a “solo” [quote, unquote]. Very often in these concertos, there is no written cadenza by Mozart because he would just do it on the spot.
Jeff Spurgeon: He'd make it up, he'd improvise it.
John Schaefer: Um, and, and so I, and you know, it's been two, almost two and a half centuries since the work debuted. There are a couple of cadenzas, some people like to play the Robert Casadesus Cadenza.
I think Rudolph Serkin did a cadenza that people play, but usually people play their own cadenzas, and that is what Mitsuko Uchida has done.
Jeff Spurgeon: And there's a reference by Jack Sullivan in the notes of this concert to something that, that, uh, listeners may have noticed. There's a passage in that, in that first movement, it sounds like it's, we're going to hear La Marseillaise.
And, and Mitsuko made great sport of that particular theme, bringing it back over and over in that cadenza, in that performance. Well, so we have a rather long break between this work and the next work, and the reason is that the piano is coming off stage.
John Schaefer: Don't worry, it'll be back.
Jeff Spurgeon: for the second half. So, the stagehands are moving the piano off stage, and a fair number of chairs as well, for the second work on this program, which will be the Kammersymphonie, the Chamber Symphony Number One of Arnold Schoenberg. So, the piano is actually moving past John and me as we are backstage right now. The stagehands all in suits and good coats and ties. So, it's a formal occasion for the stagehands’ work at Carnegie Hall.
And you're hearing some instruments being tuned up by members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra behind us that were not present in the, in the first work. And I don't know if, uh, if it was apparent to listeners, but there was one, a couple of special things about, uh, some of the instruments in that first Mozart concerto.
The only piece on the program that calls for timpani and trumpets. And both the trumpets and the timpani were old style instruments. Those were, uh, were, uh, classical valveless trumpets that the trumpeters were playing. And the timpani are what we understand to be Vienna Timpani, a slightly different design with a different mechanism in them.
Um, those, uh, period instruments aren't being used for the rest of the works on the program. Too much to ask of the players to change from, uh, classical era instruments to modern instruments in the single console.
John Schaefer: Uh, and in addition, um, Schoenberg did not require trumpets or, or percussion in his Chamber Symphony Number One, which we'll be getting to once, once the stage is reset. But for the moment, um, before we bring back the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and, uh, and the, the, the Kammersymphonie, the Chamber Symphony Number One. Let's listen to another of the, the artists that they have, they've been most associated with in recent years. And that is the Norwegian pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes, who was their artistic partner between 2012 and 2015, did a big Beethoven project with them after that, and then more recently, has done his own Mozart momentum series with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Uh, Leif Ove joined us in the Greene Space, which is our ground floor performance venue downtown, to perform some music by the Ukrainian composer, Valentin Silvestrov, uh, whose music, Jeff, we are hearing a lot more of on concert stages for all the wrong reasons in the past year, uh, or so since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Uh, but a composer who has become very intimately associated with his, his native land, and sadly now living in exile in, in Central Europe. So, let's hear his Bagatelle Opus One, Number three, Silvestrov's music but Leif Ove Andsnes performing.
MUSIC - Silvestrov: Bagatelle Op. 1, No. 3
Silvestrov's Bagatelle. The Opus One Number Three in a performance by Leif Ove Andsnes, another great collaborator of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Now back at this Carnegie Hall live broadcast by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Mitsuko Uchida- we'll hear from Ms. Uchida a bit later- but right now on-stage members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra preparing to bring you a work by Arnold Schoenberg, his Kammersymphonie, Chamber Symphony Number One.
MUSIC - Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony Number One
On stage at Carnegie Hall, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra led here by their Concertmaster José Maria Blumenschein, performing Arnold Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony Number One. It's an all-Viennese program. The, uh, the Arnold Schoenberg Chamber Symphony sandwiched in between two piano concertos by Mozart featuring Mitsuko Uchida, who is not only the piano soloist, but a Perspectives Artist this season here at Carnegie Hall.
And she has curated this, uh, all Viennese programs. The members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, 15 of them being applauded by their fellow orchestra members who surround Jeff and I here off stage at Carnegie Hall for a very virtuosic performance.
Jeff Spurgeon: This is a work that is not usually performed without a conductor and uh, we have understood that it has been said to be impossible to be performed without a conductor.
So, if you were under that impression, we will, we have disabused you of that notion with this performance tonight by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra for it was the concertmaster, uh, uh, leading from that first, uh, violin desk. And now all those 15 players are standing on the stage of Carnegie Hall, side by side, taking a bow before this audience tonight that came here to hear Mitsuko Uchida and this orchestra and the Schoenberg, perhaps the surprise on the program between those two Mozart concerti.
John Schaefer: You know, it's Schoenberg, early Schoenberg is the kind of the last flowering of romanticism.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, as one critic said the last gasp. Not, not a, not as complimentary put as you did.
John Schaefer: Um, but you know, so that piece is essentially a huge sprawling symphony of ideas compressed to, into a single 20-minute movement. It's really quite extraordinary. Um, one critic referred to it as a great pile up of notes, as you might expect, uh, since she put this piece on the program tonight, Mitsuko Uchida doesn't agree with that description.
Mitsuko Uchida: Schoenberg from a listener's point of view, it is fantastic fun because, uh, the Chamber Symphony is one of the great pieces. I mean, I do love early Schoenberg very much, and that is, this one is not even that atonal. This is still part of the tonal, slightly off-center tonal pieces of, of Schoenberg.
So, it's a very special music and there is so much intensity and passion of his, I love them. That is more passionate than when once he had thought that he invented, and he discovered and invented the 12-tone system. So, this is the very early Schoenberg. So, so it should be no problem for the listener.
Jeff Spurgeon: Mitsuko Uchida with her thoughts on this Chamber Symphony Number One of Arnold Schoenberg that we just heard, uh, in a performance by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra from Carnegie Hall Live.
John Schaefer: Didn't sound like this, or, uh, audience had too much trouble with it.
Jeff Spurgeon: No. Delighted with the performance. Yeah, absolutely. As were, and you've mentioned it, John, uh, when the players came off stage, and you were able to hear it as you were listening, um, uh, to this broadcast that, uh, they had great appreciation from their fellow members of the orchestra, one of whom is standing before us right now.
He is a violinist in the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Timothy Summers, welcome to Carnegie Hall Live.
Timothy Summers: Thank you very much. I'm happy to be here.
Jeff Spurgeon: So, um, how does the Schoenberg sandwich work for you on a program like this?
Timothy Summers: I actually, I really love it. I think, um, uh, there's something we've, as we've had this piece on tour, it came out that there's a kind of a virtuosity of interaction that come out on stage where the, the complexity or the piece became the complexity of the relationships between the people and the theater of watching that actually was grew and grew. And it was really, really interesting to see how these notes were making people react to each other.
Jeff Spurgeon: There was such wonderful interaction between the, on the, among the players backstage. Lots of, lots of hugs, lots of thumbs up from one, one part to another.
Timothy Summers: Well, you know, because it takes this, it takes this level of attention to make it work and this level of attention, even to make it make sense so that the things that you listen for to, to put it together as you're doing it, become the things that translate out into the audience.
And this is, this has been really interesting with this piece because Schoenberg was an ex, a person of great extremes, although his reputation is rather dry, uh, uh, kind of 20th century academic, uh, perspective. But actually, he was, he was expressionist to the last. And, but it really comes out now in terms of the interaction between the people doing it. And that's really great.
John Schaefer: Speaking of that interaction between the people, I mean, what is it like when you're working with someone like Mitsuko Uchida? And she comes to you and says, I want to play this Mozart and that Mozart oh and Schoenberg, you know... I mean.
Timothy Summers: Oh, I, that was met with, uh, glee. I think that's great. It's a great opportunity to, to, um, for everybody to do what it takes to put it together. I think this is, and to study the piece. And you dig in more and more and there's more and more things to do.
John Schaefer: Um, and then maybe begin to realize, oh, she actually has like a rationale for all these connections.
Timothy Summers: Absolutely. And I think, I mean, this, it, it makes. It's totally different way of listening because of the, the way that the motives develop in, in the Schoenberg is so, so dense, so continuous, so absolute. And then there's a kind of calm that shows up, especially in the second Mozart concerto, which then comes through as equally complicated without doing all that action. And it, it's, uh, actually an extremely nice, the set, especially I think with the second concerto coming, following it.
Jeff Spurgeon: The Mahler Chamber Orchestra's worked with Mitsuko for, for a while. How, how has that relationship developed and reflected upon you? And, well, you can't say how it's reflected upon her, but you.
Timothy Summers: I think it's, it's been very important for us, simply as to the extent that it, it reflected the, how much an orchestra could have a relationship with a soloist, and how much that became a dialogue, um, between one person and many people, and between one person, various voices within the orchestra.
And she plays, I mean, there are many things to say about how she plays, of course, but, uh, she plays with such an attention to how sound goes out in the room, that it gives you a chance to, to deal with what, what she's put out there. And it's a, so it's a very nice kind of collaboration. So she puts things out there that we can find and then, then, uh, go further with from within the orchestra.
John Schaefer: We heard her saying, uh, earlier, uh, in the broadcast about the Mahler Chamber Orchestra that everybody in it has other jobs, you know, it's, everybody has a day job. So, what is your day job?
Timothy Summers: Well, my day job, my, I mean I teach violin at the UdK in Berlin, I actually do a lot of work with, uh, high-dimensional audio. We have a, um, we're making these, uh, recordings that you can sort of walk into in, uh, VR and I'm doing a lot of that. Um, but that's, that's related to the orchestra. It's extremely interesting. Involves some programming, but that's rather extreme. But a lot of people do other things on the side for the orchestra. Um, I find, it, it's very interesting because it, it allows the context of the orchestra to extend out toward the audience. We're all doing other things. We all realize that music takes a, takes a place in a larger world, and there are people who present it, and there are people who listen to it. And there are people who make it possible. And then you, part of our jobs is to also, to be those people. Yeah. So, we, we do a lot of things around it.
John Schaefer: And you, you have, you've had some similar experience here and weren't you in Orpheus here in New York?
Timothy Summers: Actually, I wasn't. I was at Juilliard back in the day and gigged in the, in the, in the usual categories. But then I left around 2000. So, they, and most of my professional life has been in Europe since I moved there in 2005ish. Yeah.
John Schaefer: And you've been with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra since?
Timothy Summers: Pretty much since 2005. I've been a member since 2008. Um, I should say just on the subject that the other jobs usually mean people are working also in other orchestras. They're working. Yes. Um, but the, I would extend that also to the idea of context. That people come here bringing a lot of extra material and we're consolidating all of these influences to, to see what we can gather and how we can communicate with all these.
John Schaefer: You, it just, it strikes me that, um, you know, just looking at some of the names, like even even the concert masters, José Maria Blumenschein. You know, German born and raised. Yeah. But, but with Brazilian parents. Paris reflected in the name. Mitsuko Uchida born in Japan, schooled in Vienna, lives in Great Britain. I mean the, the, just the cosmopolitan nature of music making right now.
Timothy Summers: Yeah. And this, this is really extremely important for us actually, that, uh, even now since travel is, is more difficult for any number of reasons. Covid, not the least of them, but also environmental issues and so on, we need to take these into account, but I think we insist on international contact being something that is necessary for understanding. And I, it's, we, it works. People come together and come to all sorts of complicated understandings about Schoenberg and other things, um, for, by, by virtue of this orchestras being there. And it works as a fantastic network in that way.
Jeff Spurgeon: It speaks powerfully of the idea of an orchestra that is not full-time, because everybody says, you know, if you have a band that's together all the time, they're a tighter group, but they don't have the possibility of all of those outside influences that, that are offered by this sort of part-time job that is the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
Timothy Summers: Yeah. I think that it, it is true. I mean that nothing, there's certainly virtues to having a full-time orchestra as well. And I think what, what we end up with is a very high level of attention to the particular time that it's happening. Uh, because it's happening, because it came together in this way with these people at this time. It means that everyone has to listen and to the extent to which we are listening, we can create this sort of, this spirals out toward people listening. And this is, um, an act of principle.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah. Wonderful. And, uh, a real statement about the importance of of being in the moment in now.
Timothy Summers: Yeah. Yeah. It's really, and then the dialogues, they speak for themselves.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah. Yeah. And we'll hear more from you in those, -uh, in that Mozart dialogue that's yet to come in the second of the piano concerts that we'll hear in just a few minutes. Timothy Summers violinist of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Thanks for spending some of your intermission time with us.
Timothy Summers: Thank you very much.
Jeff Spurgeon: And we'll see you back on stage very shortly.
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It's intermission at this Carnegie Hall Live broadcast. One Mozart piano concerto down, one Schoenberg Chamber Symphony down, one Mozart piano concerto yet to go. The rumble of thunder that you might hear in the background is that grand piano now being wheeled past us for a second time. This time back out on center stage here at Carnegie Hall, where Mitsuko Uchida will, uh, rejoin the Mahler Chamber Orchestra to perform the 27th of the piano concertos of Mozart. Why don't we hear a little more Mozart as intermission, uh, continues, we'll hear a flute quartet that features Emi Ferguson. She was a recent member of WQXR's Artist Propulsion Lab, a full year residency program at the station where up and coming musicians can play in our radio sandbox. And as part of that program Emi Ferguson came to our ground floor performance venue, The Greene Space, to play this Flute Quartet in D Major in which she was joined by the Baroque violinist Aisslinn Nosky, Maureen Murchie playing the Baroque Viola, and Coleman Itzkoff playing the Baroque cello.
MUSIC – Mozart: Flute Quartet in D Major
John Schaefer: Some music from Mozart recorded live in the WQXR Greene Space featuring flute player Emi Ferguson playing a Baroque flute, so made of wood as opposed to the, uh, metal flutes of contemporary times, uh, with the Baroque violin played by Aisslinn Nosky, the baroque viola played by Maureen Murchie and Coleman Itzkoff playing a baroque cello. And, uh, together they played some of Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major. No audience when that was recorded for Mozart’s birthday back in January 2022. During that period when none of us were allowed within six feet of each other, but there was plenty of space for the four of them in The Greene Space to, uh, safely play that music of Mozart.
Jeff Spurgeon: Part of that strange time that we are still passing through to some degree, but, but, uh, those a couple of years period, that, uh, seems to have altered the way we all, uh, perceive time and look at that time in the past. This is intermission at a concert you’re hearing from Carnegie Hall Live featuring pianist Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.
The two have been collaborating in works of Mozart for a number of years, and, uh, they’re on tour now, uh, in this part of the world, stopping here before a very full house at Carnegie Hall. And, uh, we’re just a couple of minutes away from the conclusion of intermission,
John Schaefer: which will, uh, lead us into the Mozart Concerto Number 27, Köchel listing 595. Once again, uh, Köchel, Ludwig Köchel, did the catalog of Mozart's works. There are about 626, uh, and this is K 595. So again, that signifies a, uh, very, very late work by Mozart and Mitsuko Uchida tells us a little more about it.
Mitsuko Uchida: K 595, which is the very last concerto he wrote, and he performed in January 1791 in Vienna, uh, himself. Of course, he wrote the concerto, most of them for himself. And that says something because the scoring and the way he writes, he doesn't always write instructions for the piano part because that was what he played so he was not going to tell himself, play this loud, play this less whatever. So, uh, with so many of them you have to basically know the orchestration and the orchestra part. Then that gives you an idea what the rest of it is. Basically, little operas, each of them.
Jeff Spurgeon: Mitsuko Uchida reflecting on how she hears the Mozart piano concertos. I think that's a wonderful description of little operas.
John Schaefer: I love that. Yes. Especially since, you know, this is the time of Mozart's life when he was writing those great last operas and you know, there's such a singing quality to all of his music and we mentioned how uh, he had that period in the mid-1780s where he wrote a dozen piano concertos for his own series. In those concerts, he is known to have sung as well. So, singing, you know, that the word cantabile is used figures in a lot of his markings on the page. But that, that singing line is something that, that you find throughout Mozart’s,
Jeff Spurgeon: and singers return to Mozart again and again. Sometimes singers return to Mozart when they need to rebuild their voices or work after a difficult problem because of the beauty of the line and, uh, and the power of Mozart's music that helps people settle into what they are and who they are. So, um, we're going to hear one of these little instrumental operas again in just a few minutes. The stage doors have closed once again, and the house lights have been turned down here at, uh, Carnegie Hall. Uh, we're just waiting for the, or the orchestra members to come near the stage door. We presume in a couple of minutes they'll be back on stage with Mitsuko Uchida and the piano, which has done a little bit of traveling. And in fact, the piano has traveled on this tour with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. So, if you were thinking that Mitsuko Uchida doesn't check some luggage, Lord does she. Um, so this is a, uh, uh, Steinway piano, uh, manufactured in, in Hamburg, and she's been traveling with it as she has done before on tour to assure herself of an, uh, instrument that she's comfortable with. And I think we forget often John, uh, that pianists have a challenge that, that most of the musicians don't- organists have the same challenge- which is they don't get to play the same instrument night after night. It's not really, it's not really their friend in the way that a violinist's violin is, or a clarinetist's clarinet. So, there's a special challenge. And so that's part of the reason why, uh, Mitsuko Uchida brings her own instrument with her. She wants that companion by her side.
John Schaefer: And she will both play the piano and conduct the Mahler Chamber Orchestra once again in this, uh, Mozart Piano Concerto Number 27, as she said, the very last concerto that he wrote. And like most of the others, leaving lots of room for the pianist to interpret the piece, to decide things like tempo and dynamics and articulation. All of the things that Mozart didn't feel he needed to write into the score because he was the one who was going to play it.
Jeff Spurgeon: Exactly. An improvisatory atmosphere in the music from its creation. And now the Mahler Chamber Orchestra back on stage settling into their chairs. We should mention that for the Schoenberg, uh, Chamber Symphony, uh, only the cellists were seated. Everyone else was on his or her feet during that performance. Uh, but now we have the full, uh, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, about 32 players, very much the same assemblage as was on stage for the first Mozart piano concerto, with the exception of the timpani and the trumpets.
John Schaefer: And once again, uh, Concertmaster José Maria Blumenschein tuning up the orchestra. We wait for that stage door to reopen and once again, admit Mitsuko Uchida to, uh, Carnegie Hall's center stage for this second half of tonight's concert from Carnegie Hall, uh, in the Perspectives series that she has been, um, curating and programming. A hush falls over this very full house at Carnegie Hall. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra tuned up, ready to go. And with a nod from Mitsuko Uchida, the stage door opens and out she comes.
Jeff Spurgeon: Once again, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra players greet her in the same way that the audience does. With those quiet strings applause. She turns to the house with a deep bow and settles in at the keyboard once again as she did, uh, in the earlier concerto. And we're ready now for the Piano Concerto number 27 from Carnegie Hall Live with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and pianist Mitsuko Uchida.
MUSIC - Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie Hall Live, Mozart's final piano concerto Number 27 K. 595, performed for you by soloist Mitsuko Uchida, who conducted from the keyboard, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. All the musicians now on their feet. Audience members rising as well. Backstage with Carnegie Hall. I'm Jeff Spurgeon, alongside John Schaefer.
John Schaefer: She really is a beloved figure. Oh, well, everywhere she goes. But you know, especially here at Carnegie Hall where we have been treated recently to her performance of some of the late Beethoven piano sonatas.
Jeff Spurgeon: The last three, yes. Just a couple of weeks ago.
John Schaefer: Splendidly, reviewed and received. And you know, the, the last notes were still ringing out here at Carnegie Hall when the cheers and the "bravos" began.
And, uh, Mitsuko Uchida accepting a bouquet of flowers at center stage and now walking off stage.
Jeff Spurgeon: Some of that applause you have to be admit is for Mozart too, because yes, the music is so congenial and, and it's just a delight. Um, the interaction that he writes with the orchestra, the interaction that he writes within a part from major key to minor key with the same motives. And yet the applause once again is for Mitsuko Uchida back on stage. And again, that applause echoed by the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom Mitsuko Uchida has been collaborating for a number of years in performing, exploring, going deeply into the Mozart piano concertos. And I interrupted you before.
John Schaefer: Right now, I've forgotten what I was going to say.
Jeff Spurgeon: I'm sure it was very important too.
John Schaefer: I'm sure it was extremely important. Uh, Mitsuko Uchida has, has asked the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra to rise and to, uh, bask in the applause of this very, very satisfied Carnegie Hall audience.
The, uh, you were talking about the genial nature of some of the music making of Mozart's music, especially that last movement based as it is on a children's song. Uh, the English title of which would be Longing for Spring. And, you know, Mozart debuted this piece in the winter. It was January of 1791, the year of his death, and it was in fact his last ever public performance.
So, it, you know, you would think that the Vienna audience in 1791, in the winter of 1791 would've recognized that song and understood its significance. You know, looking ahead to spring. Mitsuko Uchida back out at center stage. You can tell from the burst of renewed applause, and she's back, not just at center stage, but at the piano.
Mitsuko Uchida: From some of the members of the, of the orchestra. It's a very good idea. A tiny piece to finish to frame today's concert, Mozart, Schoenberg, Mozart, and then this tiny bit of a piece from Schoenberg.
MUSIC - Schoenberg
John Schaefer: A little more music from Arnold Schoenberg played live as an encore by Mitsuko Uchida with the, uh, the audience listening as if with bated breath, and surrounded by the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra listening equally attentively. An encore performance by Mitsuko Uchida center stage at Carnegie Hall. And it's been a, a program of Schoenberg and Mozart, the first great Viennese school of classical composers represented by Mozart. And then the, uh, the ushering in of modernism with, uh, the second Viennese school led by Arnold Schoenberg.
Jeff Spurgeon: And the Mahler Chamber Orchestra concluding the concert with hugs all around for themselves after that encore by Mitsuko Uchida, who is a champion of that first Viennese school of the music, certainly of Franz Schubert as well and Beethoven. But she also loves these modern works as well. And, uh, as we heard from violinist Timothy Summers in intermission, there's a great deal to be learned from placing these pieces next to each other. Hearing one next to the other, offers a new perspective on each of those works. And that has been, uh, what Mitsuko Uchida has been presenting in these concerts as she's been exploring the Mozart piano concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra for several years.
John Schaefer: And I believe that was one of the five little pieces for piano.
Jeff Spurgeon: Schoenberg, yes. His first, uh, foray into the oh, whole 12-tone world. The way that he announced that idea to the world.
John Schaefer: So that, uh, wraps up this broadcast from Carnegie Hall. Our thanks to Clive Gillinson and the staff here at Carnegie Hall. WQXR's team includes engineers, Edward Haber, George Wellington, Duke Markos, and Bill Siegmund.
Jeff Spurgeon: Our production team includes Eileen Delahunty, and Max Fine. I'm Jeff Spurgeon.
John Schaefer: And I'm John Schaefer. Carnegie Hall Live is a co-production of Carnegie Hall and WQXR in New York.
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