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Classical Notes

Menlo: Mozart festival heats up

Posted at 9:21 AM on July 26, 2006 by Brian Newhouse
Filed under: Concerts

You know those big industrial fans you can rent at Menards after your basement floods? I got to St. Mark's Episcopal Church an hour before the first Menlo concert last night and three of those monsters were going full tilt in the church aisles. No floodwaters anywhere, just another day of heat that made page one of USA Today. The fans were trying to shove the heat outdoors as if it were a batch of unwelcome freeloaders who hadn't bought tickets.

They did a good job and by eight the place was cooled down and every seat taken, as are all the seats for every single Menlo concert. Silicon Valley has been waiting a whole year for this.

The Festival's subtitle this year is "Returning to Mozart" and most of the concerts are programmed along these lines: on the first half last night we heard Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2, written in the horrible year of 1944. The cello starts all alone, high, strained, and utterly bereft—like an orphan crying in the back corner of some wartime cave. But after intermission, here came Mozart's C Major Piano Sonata for Four Hands and his G Minor Piano Quartet. Especially the slow movement of the Quartet—it was a balm, as if someone had gone into that cave and picked the little one up and carried it into the sun.

That's Menlo's point this year, that Mozart's humanity still helps our souls in a way that 200+ years haven’t dimmed in the least.

Listen to previous years' concerts