Pianist Paul Maillet offered an introspective and warm playin of the Piano Concerto No. 21 and soprano Kimberly Hawkins sang an enchanting Agnus Dei in the Coronation Mass during an all-Mozart program by the Concert Artists of Baltimore at the Friedberg Concert Hall Saturday night.
The latest concert celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death at 35 in 1791, the evening was one of six that coincidentally this weekend were funded in the Baltimore area by the Peggy and Yale Gordon Trust
Saturday's program began tentatively with the Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter), a work that now seems better fitted for an orchestra two or three times the size of the 31-person unit led by Edward Polochick. Size aside, the orchestra made little emotional impression in the first two movements, the players a few times lacking complete unity.
The playing picked up in the traditional minuet of the third movement. Then Polochick and his musicians crafted a delightful conclusion in the energetic fourth movement, largely a rondo where one familiar theme recurs several times.
Maillet's concerto playing just before intermission was especially pleasing because he beautifully evoked the forward-looking Mozart, showing traces of the coming Beethoven and even the (( Romantics, especially the second movement made popular in the movie "Elvira Madigan." A Peabody graduate and world-trotting recitalist, Maillet was a precise artist who also offered some lovely cadenzas, finger-flexing passages of his own.
The second half was devoted with good effect to the choral as well as instrumental side of the composer in two other short classics. The Ave Verum Corpus motet for strings and chorus, was performed slowly, softly and effectively. It was an approach bordering on the ponderous yet the solemnity was moving.
The 37 voices and orchestra summoned extra reserves of enthusiasm and musicality for the Coronation Mass. Tenor John Weber, alto Mary Ruzicka and bass Robert Powers sang well but their solos unfortunately were too short to be displayed as well as soprano Hawkins. She showed not a huge voice but a relaxed and natural instrument that prayed for mercy to the Lamb of God with a genuine earnestness clearly communicated to the nearly full house.