This concert is sponsored by Kristin & Richard Thibedeau

Additional support provided by The Colburn Foundation

Overture to Cosi fan tutte

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born 1756 in Salzburg, Austria | Died 1791 in Vienna, Austria

Composed in 1790 | 5 minutes
Scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings

Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor

featuring Michael Stephen Brown, piano

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born 1756 in Salzburg, Austria | Died 1791 in Vienna, Austria

Composed in 1785| 30 minutes
Scored for solo piano, flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings

Symphony No. 39

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born 1756 in Salzburg, Austria | Died 1791 in Vienna, Austria

Composed in 1788 | 29 minutes
Scored for flute, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings

Program Notes: Our Friend Mozart

Overture to Cosi fan tutte, K.588

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera Cosi fan tutte, composed in 1789-1790, stands as one of the composer's masterpieces in the realm of comic opera. The overture, which serves as the opening musical statement of the opera, encapsulates the wit, charm, and musical brilliance that Mozart is celebrated for.

The overture begins with a stately and elegant introduction, marked by rich harmonies and a sense of anticipation. This opening section introduces the audience to the operatic world, setting the stage for the unfolding drama of love and deception that will follow in the opera itself. Mozart's use of dynamic (volume) contrasts and graceful melodic lines within this section reflects the sophistication of the characters and the comedic nature of the story.

The mood quickly shifts as the overture transitions into a faster, more lively section, marked by its spirited and effervescent character. Here, Mozart showcases his mastery of orchestration, employing a vibrant interplay of strings, woodwinds, and brass. The quick tempo and playful themes capture the essence of the opera's comedic plot, where two young couples navigate the complexities of love and fidelity.

Mozart's overture is not merely a prelude but a concise musical narrative that foreshadows the themes and emotions that will unfold in the subsequent acts of Cosi fan tutte. The overture serves as a musical invitation, beckoning the audience into the world of the opera and preparing them for the delightful exploration of human relationships that will follow.

As with many of Mozart's works, the overture to Cosi fan tutte demonstrates the composer's ability to seamlessly blend profound emotional depth with lightheartedness. Through his unparalleled compositional skill, Mozart crafts an overture that is both an engaging standalone piece and a fitting prelude to the delightful journey that awaits the audience in the unfolding (and hilarious) drama of Cosi fan tutte.

Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K. 466, stands as a beacon of dramatic intensity and emotional depth within the composer's prolific output. Composed in 1785, during a particularly creative period in Mozart's career, this concerto is renowned for its passionate expression and innovative use of the piano as a solo instrument within the Classical concerto form. Additionally striking is that, out of 27 known piano concertos, this is one of two concertos in a minor key.

The concerto consists of three movements:

1. Allegro: The first movement opens with a striking and stormy introduction, setting the tone for the dramatic journey ahead. The piano enters with a powerful and impassioned theme, engaging in a dialogue with the orchestra. Throughout this movement, Mozart explores the juxtaposition of dark, turbulent passages with moments of lyrical introspection. The cadenza in this movement, a solo section for the pianist, offers a platform for virtuosic expression and improvisation.

2. Romanze—Larghetto  In contrast to the stormy first movement, the second movement provides a respite with its lyrical and melancholic Romanze. The piano takes on a more vocal role, expressing a tender and poignant dialogue with the orchestra. Mozart's gift for crafting beautiful, expressive melodies is evident in this movement, as the music unfolds with a sense of deep introspection and emotional richness.

3. Allegro assai The final movement, marked by its lively tempo and spirited character, brings the concerto to a thrilling conclusion. Mozart employs elements of the classical sonata-allegro form, infusing it with a sense of urgency and playfulness. The interplay between the piano and orchestra becomes more dynamic, showcasing the brilliance of Mozart's writing for both. The movement concludes with a triumphant and virtuosic coda.

Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 is notable for its innovative treatment of the piano as a solo instrument, offering a level of emotional expression and dramatic intensity that was groundbreaking for its time. The concerto's influence can be heard in the works of later composers, including Beethoven and Chopin, who were undoubtedly inspired by Mozart's ability to weave together drama, lyricism, and technical brilliance.

MOZART: Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543

Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K. 543, is a crowning jewel in the composer's symphonic output, showcasing his exceptional ability to blend grace, sophistication, and innovation within the classical symphonic form. Composed in the summer of 1788, alongside his 40th and 41st symphonies, the Symphony No. 39 stands as a testament to Mozart's prolific creativity and his mastery of orchestration.

The symphony is structured with the traditional four movements of a Classical symphony:

1. Adagio - Allegro The symphony begins with a slow and majestic introduction, featuring rich harmonies that set the stage for the contrasting fast that follows. The main theme, introduced by the strings, is characterized by its buoyancy and rhythmic vitality. Mozart's seamless integration of contrasting themes and his brilliant orchestration contribute to the movement's sense of balance and structural coherence.

2. Andante con moto The second movement, marked Andante con moto (roughly meaning leisurely but with motion), unfolds as a lyrical and expressive dialogue between the strings and woodwinds. Mozart's gift for crafting beautiful melodies is evident here, as the music alternates between moments of serene introspection and passionate outbursts. The graceful interplay between the sections of the orchestra adds to the movement's charm and emotional depth.

3. Menuetto: Allegretto - Trio The third movement, a Menuetto marked by its dance-like character, maintains a sense of elegance and refinement. The contrasting Trio section introduces a more pastoral atmosphere, featuring the winds prominently. Mozart's ability to infuse traditional forms with a fresh, vibrant spirit contributes to the movement's enduring appeal.

4. Finale: Allegro The symphony concludes with an up-tempo, spirited Allegro, marked by its effervescent energy and rhythmic drive. Mozart employs contrapuntal elements and thematic development with great skill, creating a sense of excitement and momentum. The Finale unfolds with a jubilant spirit, showcasing Mozart's ability to balance formality with exuberance.

Mozart's Symphony No. 39, along with its companion pieces, represents a pinnacle of the Classical symphonic repertoire. The work's structural sophistication, melodic inventiveness, and emotional depth continue to captivate audiences, making it a timeless masterpiece that stands as a testament to Mozart's unparalleled genius. The Symphony No. 39 serves as a prime example of how Mozart, even in the face of personal challenges and financial difficulties, was able to create works of enduring beauty and significance.

Guest Artists

Michael Stephen Brown

Michael Stephen Brown has been hailed by The New York Times as “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers.” His artistry is shaped by his creative voice as a pianist and composer, praised for his “fearless performances” (The New York Times) and “exceptionally beautiful” compositions (The Washington Post).

Winner of the 2018 Emerging Artist Award from Lincoln Center and a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Brown has recently performed as soloist with the Seattle Symphony, the National Philharmonic, and the Grand Rapids, North Carolina, Wichita, New Haven, and Albany Symphonies; and recitals at Carnegie Hall, the Mostly Mozart Festival, and Lincoln Center. Brown is an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing frequently at Alice Tully Hall and on tour. In 2022, he opened the Society’s season with Bach and Mendelssohn concertos, and makes European debuts as soloist with the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra, and performs recitals at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn and the Chopin Museum in Majorca. He was selected by András Schiff to perform on an international tour making solo debuts in Berlin, Milan, Florence, Zurich’s Tonhalle and New York’s 92nd Street Y. He regularly performs recitals with his longtime duo partner, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and has appeared at numerous festivals including Tanglewood, Marlboro, Music@Menlo, Gilmore, Ravinia, Saratoga, Bridgehampton, Caramoor, Music in the Vineyards, Bard, Sedona, Moab, and Tippet Rise.

As a composer, he recently toured his own Concerto for Piano and Strings (2020) around the US and Poland with several orchestras. He was the Composer and Artist-in-Residence at the New Haven Symphony for the 2017-19 seasons and a 2018 Copland House Residency Award recipient. He has received commissions from the Gilmore Piano Festival, the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra; the New Haven and Maryland Symphony Orchestras; Concert Artists Guild, Shriver Hall; Osmo Vänskä and Erin Keefe; pianists Jerome Lowenthal, Ursula Oppens, Orion Weiss, Adam Golka, and Roman Rabinovich; and a consortium of gardens.

A prolific recording artist, his latest album Noctuelles, featuring Ravel’s Miroirs and newly discovered movements by Medtner was called “a glowing presentation” by BBC Music Magazine. He can be heard as soloist with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot in the music of Messiaen, and as soloist with the Brandenburg State Symphony in music by Samuel Adler. Other albums include Beethoven’s Eroica Variations; all-George Perle; and collaborative albums each with pianist Jerome Lowenthal, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and violinist Elena Urioste. He is now embarking on a multi-year project to record the complete piano music by Felix Mendelssohn including world premiere recordings of music by one of Mendelssohn’s muses, Delphine von Schauroth.Brown was First Prize winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, a winner of the Bowers Residency from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (formerly CMS Two), a recipient of the Juilliard Petschek Award, and is a Steinway Artist.

He earned dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano and composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald and composers Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. Additional mentors have included András Schiff and Richard Goode as well as his early teachers, Herbert Rothgarber and Adam Kent.

A native New Yorker, he lives there with his two 19th century Steinway D’s, Octavia and Daria.
He will not reveal which is his favorite, so as not to incite jealousy. In his spare time, he learns Italian, carves stumps into coffee tables, and plays a lot of Mendelssohn.

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