Living with Mozart

10th November 2011 | Concerts, Daily Life, Inspirations | 5 comments

Susan and Erich outside the Stephansdom in ViennaI’m on my way to Scotland for the start of my Mozart Series with violinist Erich Höbarth. On Friday evening we’re playing our opening concert in the Horsecross Concert Hall in Perth, one of Scotland’s newest arts centres.

For this series, I’ve been preparing nearly twenty works by Mozart – duo sonatas and solo piano pieces. It’s not often that one gets the chance to be so steeped in the work of a particular composer, tackling so many works in a short period of time. I’ve known these works for a long time but have never had a reason to practise them, round and round, so intensively.

Musicians always say that Mozart is one of the most demanding of composers because his music is ‘so exposed’. Every note counts and has to be heard in the right relation to the notes around it. Everything has to sound clear and balanced, but not effortful, because the lightness and sense of fun are also essential. On the other hand, the apparent lightness must never conceal the deep feelings running through, or underneath, many of the passages. The balance between the elements of the music is more beautifully judged, and on a finer scale, than that of any other music I know. The more I look into it, the more I respect it. It’s nice to be spending so much time with this music. When the work is going well, I find that it has a very good effect on me.

5 Comments

  1. Mary

    How interesting that you describe ‘Living with Mozart’as having a good effect. ‘Living with Bach’ does this for me. Finding his music a complex mixture – simultaneously exposed and profound – l saved him up for serious study until reaching my forties. Now I always look forward to performances that entail a period of total immersion in Bach. It is a bit like going to a musical health farm!

    Reply
  2. Paul Austen

    Susan, I just wanted to say that we (my wife and I) came up to Perth for the concert on Friday and it was absolutely wonderful!! We did enjoy it so much. It’s a very good hall isn’t it with excellent accoustic. The Fantasia you played was interesting and I’d never heard it before. I was expecting the one that is linked to the C minor Sonata. What you said about Mozart’s study of Bach was most illuminating: as you played the opening I thought immediately of the Bach “Great” Fantasia and Fugue for organ!! I’m going to come to the one in December and look forward very much to it. I’ll bring Sue to the one in February next year; alas she can’t come to the wednesday ones as she teaches and couldn’t get from Newcastle to Perth in an hour!!! Many congratulations again!!

    Reply
  3. Stephen Dickinson

    Dear Susan.

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the concert Erich Höbarth and yourself gave in Perth on Friday – it was absolutely wonderful and such a treat to be able to attend this evening, one which I am sure I will remember vividly for years to come. Thank you so much – you must have put in such a lot of time and effort to bring the whole thing together what with rehearsals in Vienna on top of your normal preparation. I came with a friend who also greatly enjoyed the evening.

    Reply
    • Susan Tomes

      Thank you both so much for these heartwarming comments. I enjoyed the concert enormously and am very glad to hear that you did too. I’m particularly grateful to people who travelled so far to hear it.

      Reply
  4. Paul Austen

    Susan, I had to laugh as my wife’s sense of geography is dreadful and she thought that Perth was much nearer Carlisle!! But it was worth every yard of the 150 mile journey. As Stephen Dickinson said, I still have vivid images of seeing and hearing your performances which I now carry as a benchmark in my mind!! Rather like your performance of the Scvhumann Piano Quintet with the Gaudier at Cerne Abbas last year which left me completely speechless – literally, it was so spell-binding!! Can’t wait till the next concert on December 14th!!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Concertos from long ago

Concertos from long ago

I was looking through the list of candidates for a concerto competition recently and was struck by the list of pieces they were...

read more
Best reads of the year

Best reads of the year

A reader has asked me to specify my favourite books of the year. I keep a note in my diary of the books I read, and this year I read...

read more