The challenge of Mozart's music involves the same qualities that make it such a joy to hear. It lies in the clarity, simplicity, and proportion Mozart envisioned and wrote into the music. There is an undeniable virtuosity, to be sure, but rather than being an end unto itself, that virtuosity is at the service of the overall picture of grace and beauty.
Fortepiano made by Paul McNulty, following an 1804 original by the Viennese maker Anton Walter(by Opus33 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons)
The challenges - and rewards - are exponentially heightened when Mozart's musical thoughts are channelled through a keyboard instrument of his time. Today's grand pianos, built for projecting massive Romantic creations into large concert halls, constitute a wonder of human invention.
But, as you can see in the videos with Robert Levin below, they are something of a leap away from the sound world of Mozart. On a fortepiano of Mozart's time, that control and virtuosity must be delivered with an even finer sense of gradation, subtlety, and color. Likewise, the listening experience brings a new sense of discovery to Mozart's creation.
For this performance of Mozart's Concerto in for Two Pianos, Boston Baroque, now in its 39th year, invited two performers known around the world, but based here in Boston. Robert Levin is one of the world's foremost authorities on Mozart through his musicological work at Harvard University, and his wife, Ya-fei Chuang, travels the world as a soloist in both recitals and orchestral collaborations.
On the program:
Symphony No. 29 in A, K. 201
Concerto in E-flat for Two Pianos, K. 365
Robert Levin and Ya-fei Chuang, fortepianos
Arrangements of fugues from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, K. 405
Symphony No. 36 in C Major (“Linz”), K. 425
Videos with Robert Levin, describing Mozart's music and the fortepiano: