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Mozart concert sets the world right

11/27/13 • by Sherli Leonard • The Riverside Press-Enterprise

Take three Mozarts and get plenty of rest — the perfect prescription for turning around an ailing world.

That was conductor Jon Robertson’s plan for the Redlands Symphony Orchestra concert on Saturday, Nov. 23, in the Memorial Chapel at the University of Redlands.

“I always feel all is well with the world when I play Mozart,” Robertson said in his pre-concert remarks.

Mozart 1: “Don Giovanni” overture, composed during the years Mozart lived in Vienna.

Pleasant enough, nothing spectacular with either the composition or the performance, but perhaps that was the idea for this concert. Just steady, solid, perfectly harmonious music to stop the whirling world and get us ready for the more sublime to come. Excellently intense with great energy, the orchestra’s strings drove the dynamics of the piece.

Mozart 2: Concerto for Flute and Harp, the ideal treatment for calming and healing the weary world.

Two stellar musicians shared their talent with a full and appreciative house. Sara Andon, principal flute with the Redlands Symphony Orchestra, and Mary Dropkin on harp delivered an insanely sweet and lovely performance while Robertson kept the mute button on to keep the orchestra from overpowering the two soft solo instruments.

Andon, always expressive without great drama, and Dropkin, business-like with impeccable technique, combined to make the audience thoroughly enjoy the medicine.

The work offered wonderfully deliberate yet romantic cadenzas, allowing the two performers to showcase the soothing instrumental combination. With great patience, they infused the second movement especially with a good deal of melancholy. If this piece doesn’t sooth the savage beast inside, nothing will.

To savor the duo a little longer, Andon and Dropkin returned to the stage for a mesmerizing display of flute virtuosity over a persistent ostinato from the harp in an unnamed piece with Spanish flare. The brief deviation from Mozart’s style provided the java jolt to the healing process.

Mozart 3: Symphony No. 39, one of the final symphonies he composed.

Even if the listener is not a music aficionado, he can still enjoy Mozart’s works; the students of music will have an even richer experience. Such is the case with Symphony No. 39, full of musical inventions that Robertson listed but to which most listeners would be oblivious; the silent measures, the dissonant chords, complex harmonies, the clever key changes are there, subtly enriching the piece and making it the essential ingredient in the world healing process.

All the usual high praises for the orchestra are there, too; masterful shaping of lines, graceful leaning into notes, precise execution — the Redlands Symphony Orchestra continues to prove its mettle.

Programming only one composer for an entire concert, when the composer is as amazing and intriguing as Mozart, gives the audience an opportunity to savor the composer’s wealth of genius. The audience could leave this concert feeling better about the world and simply feeling better.

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