Music

Review: VSO’s performance of Mozart’s Gran Partita shines regardless of the setting

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A good deal of this chamber music approach came from music director Otto Tausk’s avoidance of the top-down methods of autocratic conductors. The presence of the cameras invited us to eavesdrop on the complicated, non-verbal language between musicians. Tausk assured quality efficiency, but being inside the ensemble, as it were, we can also see how he is there to allow the players to best create a wondrous collective experience.

Fewer faces with bigger spaces were on stage at the Orpheum as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presented Mozart’s Gran Partita. Photo by Neil Middleton /PNG

The Gran Partita is a work of symphonic length in seven movements. The wonder is that Mozart allows us to engage as superficially — it’s a serenade, after all — or deeply as we choose. A single listening is lovely, but far from enough. This is music that grows in stature with increased familiarity.

As most conductors know, Mozart goes well in a conventional program with just about any other composer. But what to do in an intense hour-long stream?

Back in 2006, the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, Jocelyn Morlock was commissioned to write a piece for the short-lived Festival Vancouver. Her Zart for chamber orchestra launches with a quotation, the arresting opening gesture from the Magic Flute overture, then explores a tangled web of ideas about colour and texture.

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