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Columbia Orchestra takes up Mozart, mixes in Mendelssohn


It will be a "Mostly Mozart" Saturday night at Smith Theatre, courtesy of the Columbia Orchestra.

Conductor Catherine L. Ferguson will take the stage at 8 to conduct Mozart's Overture to "Don Giovanni," the sparkling A-major Piano Concerto, K.414, and the Flute Concerto in G. Rounding out the program will be Felix Mendelssohn's "Reformation" Symphony.

"Mozart," said composer Antonin Dvorak, "is sunshine." Those who attend Saturday likely will agree.

The earlier of the two Mozart works, the Flute Concerto, was written in 1777 as the 22-year-old composer was job hunting in an attempt to escape the clutches of the archbishop of Salzburg, Austria, who was employing him but also driving him crazy.

In an attempt to impress the musicians of Mannheim, Germany, which boasted one of Europe's finest court orchestras, Mozart ignored the "keep it short and easy" request of the amateur flutist who commissioned the concerto and concocted an upbeat, songful work bursting with devilishly difficult runs and trills.

As Mozart hoped, the work caught the attention of the Mannheim court flutist, a fellow called Wendling, and it continues to challenge and delight the players of our era.

Nancy Stagnitta of the Baltimore Opera Orchestra and the Annapolis Symphony, one of the area's premier teachers and free-lance flutists, will serve as soloist.

Composed five years after the Flute Concerto, K.414 is typical of Mozart's piano concertos with its bright, lyrical first movement full of nifty tunes, a stately andante and a vivacious concluding allegro in rondo form.

Michael Adcock, a Peabody-trained pianist with a Carnegie Hall recital and a prize-winning appearance at the 1996 Washington International Piano Competition to his credit, will be the soloist.

Adcock's teacher, the legendary Leon Fleisher, is one of the great exponents of this lovely concerto.

There will be no shortage of drama Saturday as the orchestra begins the program with Mozart's emphatic introduction to "Don Giovanni" and ends with Mendelssohn's "Reformation."

"Reformation," composed in 1830 to commemorate the tercentenary celebration of Lutheranism's defining "Augsburg Confession," this wonderful symphony ends with a ringing declaration of Martin Luther's hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

Robert Schumann would have loved Ferguson's programming. Mendelssohn was, in his words, "the Mozart of the 19th century."

"Mostly Mozart" tickets are $10 or $7 for seniors and students, in advance. Tickets at the door cost $12. Information: 410-381-2004.

Pub Date: 1/28/99

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