Theologian Karl Barth once wrote:
“ Whoever has discovered Mozart even to a small degree and then tries to speak about him falls quickly into what seems rapturous stammering. “
I would concur that commenting about the genius of Mozart can be daunting. His music endures and the performance November 3, 2019 of the Princeton Pro Música at Richardson Auditorium Princeton University was indeed a sacred event.
There were literally two concerts: first selection being the Concerto for Clarinet in A Minor and the second selection being the Great Mass in C Minor K. 427. Here was a blend of a musical piece celebrating friendship and a piece proclaiming the glory of God.
Mozart wrote the Concerto for Clarinet in A Minor for his close friend and Masonic Lodge-mate Anton Stadler ( Princeton Pro Música concert program ). Stadler was a talented musician and played the clarinet.
The first half of the program featured the Pro Música orchestra headed by Concertmaster Namae Iwata, Artistic Director Ryan James Brandau, and Clarinet soloist Paschal Archer.
The interplay between the orchestra and soloist was fascinating to watch. All three movements were punctuated by sweet resonant tones and rich full sound backed by the violins and violas. Archer was a delight to watch. He almost swayed with Zen-like concentration as he delivered delightful runs and pastoral sequences.
There was almost a jazz-like feel to his interpretation. You could almost imagine him playing at a jazz club in New York’s Upper West Side.
The performance of the Great Mass in C Minor was majestic. Soloists Clara Rottsolk, Molly Netter Soprano, Brian Giebler Tenor and Andrew Padgett, Bass Baritone were outstanding. All of their voices were strong ,clear and they performed the mass with great passion and devotion. The mass performance was also accentuated by the strong regal artistic shills of the orchestra and the dy6namic chorus. The blend of the strong voices and the bold horns, strings, timpani resonated with powerful impact.
As I listened to the performance of The Great Mass in C Minor, I thought about people I have lost, deceased family members, the recent sudden tragic death of an adult daughter of a very good friend, and the death of my good friend and editor.
Sacred music, especially when it is played well helps to bring a balance between pain, loss and beauty.
Mozart had the uncanny ability to represent the Enlightenment balance and be also the paragon of grace ( Ibid ).
For our times and for our seasons, we all need as much grace as possible.
This music and its performance were able to be a vehicle of grace for all.
May it be so.