REVIEW: HPI Mozart/Haydn program offers “stunning” performance

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bloomington Herald Times Music Review

  • By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer |

A mini-sized festival honoring Franz Joseph Haydn brought forth a Sunday afternoon concert of radiant music, not all written by the composer being honored. Since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart credited his older compatriot with showing him the way, it was deemed appropriate by those who planned the festival to include a bit of Mozart’s music, the Piano Concerto in E-Flat Major, along with a performance of Haydn’s “Missa in B-Flat Major,” his “Theresienmesse,” written between his two oratorios, “The Creation” and “The Seasons.” By good fortune, the Bloomington Chamber Singers will be offering us a performance of “The Creation” on April 22.

Dana Marsh, director of the IU Jacobs School of Music’s Historical Performance Institute, chose the Classical Orchestra to fit in with a fortepiano constructed by American piano maker Philip Belt to resemble a 1780 instrument such as used by Mozart. The fellow who played that replica on Sunday was Mike Cheng-Yu Lee, a visiting faculty member specializing in music theory who happens to have a love affair with fortepianos.

He played the instrument gloriously, with a crispness that only a fortepiano will allow and a touch that must have tingled the keys. Lee’s Mozart was absolutely radiant, a lesson in refinement mixed with deep devotion. Joining the Marsh-led orchestra in reflection of the soloist’s crispness and ability to tingle the keys, that meant one heard unforgettable Mozart.

The reading of Haydn’s magnificent “Theresienmesse” — as performed by the same Classical Orchestra, along with the Concentus Ensemble and beautifully-voiced soloists from within its ranks — was stunning. Call it a revelation, as guided by conductor Marsh, a musician who truly knows the literature and was able to use his expertise to teach the singers what needed to be taught to make the presentation an artistic celebration. A celebration it was, a memorable part of a Bloomington weekend.

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