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Mozart at Mandeville Place

27th & 30th January 2011

Round the corner from Wigmore Hall, this is a busy concert venue, new to me until last week.

The School of Economic Science, in what used to be the Trinity College of music before they moved to Greenwich, holds regular Thursday early evening recitals at the small MacLaren Hall, an ideal place to enjoy intimate chamber music.

On Mozart's 255th birthday Mikhail Shilyaev, an upcoming pianist/fortepianist whose career we have been following*, gave a short recital which delighted listeners unused to hearing a piano similar to those Mozart himself played; the Rondo in A minor was particularly captivating.

The following Sunday there was a more ambitious Mozart chamber concert. For both events a fine Walter copy (Dennis Wooley, 1989) belonging to David Ward, professor of Fortepiano at the Royal College of Music, was made available. Ward was not quite note-perfect in Mozart's Allegro in G minor, nor had Shilyaev been in some virtuosic passages of his chosen sonatas, but the audiences (full houses of c.150) were not minded to cavil. The atmosphere was convivial, very much like what we might have supposed at a soirée in Mozart's own time**.

David Ward gave helpful introductions, including quotes from Mozartians as various as H. C. Robbins Landon and Tchaikovsky, which enhanced the atmosphere (as does Peter Sheppard Skarvaed for the Kreutzer String Quartet at their Wilton's Music Hall residency).

He accompanied songs and played some smaller pieces from Mozart's youth on his fortepiano and moved to the School's Steinway to deputise for orchestra in operatic arias and duets [Illustration below: the Letter Duet from Figaro].

After a leisurely interval for refreshments and talk, the second half was devoted to an immaculate and fully satisfying performance of the greatest of the string quintets, the Ceruti Ensemble led by Peter Nall notable for the lack of those interpretative excesses often to be heard from today's young ensembles which aspire to astonish and beat the opposition in a competitive field.

Peter Grahame Woolf






** http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd11/MozartSoiree.html