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Classical Notes

Menlo: Ara Guzelimian

Posted at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2006 by Brian Newhouse
Filed under: Concerts

Headed home now, wishing everyone who’s stopped by to read this blog could spend at least a day with Music@Menlo.

Ara Guzelimian, Carnegie Hall’s Artistic Adviser, gave the lecture-demo last night and took the audience into Mozart’s wind music. That topic didn’t really grab my lapels when I heard it was coming: Mozart was all about the symphony, the operas, the piano concertos, and the string quartets – not necessarily winds. But working with musicians onstage and with bits of recordings, Ara showed us how Mozart so often picked a wind instrument when he wanted to say something uniquely powerful.

Ara didn’t even mention the late clarinet masterworks (the Concerto, the Quintet) which would’ve made his point right there. Instead, he went into the piano concertos, operas like The Magic Flute, Clemenza di Tito, and even the pivotal C Minor String Quintet, and showed how wind instruments either inspired them or put blood in their veins.

Menlo 2006 is all about the world’s most famous composer, but also the composer you hear on hold and in the elevator, the composer you take for granted and don’t really hear after a while. Last night I got an ear scrubbing. I’ll probably grab some perfect stranger by the elbow in an elevator someday and say, “Listen! Clarinets in pairs! Mozart’s voice of angels…”

Like I say, I wish everyone could be here at least a day or so, to remember why he or she fell in love with this music in the first place.