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Our Young Ambassador reviews Mozart Symphony No.29

13 September, 2020

Sydney Symphony Young Ambassador, Tomas, picked up a few tips and tricks for his own clarinet playing when he attended our performance of Mozart's Symphony No.29.

Written by Tomas Phillips, age 16

Last month, I was in attendance as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performed Mozart's Sinfonia concertante in E flat for four winds and Symphony No.29 at the boutique City Recital Hall.

Having attended concerts from the back of the Concert Hall in the Sydney Opera House, the first thing that struck me was the intimacy of the Recital Hall. Given its more compact build, it was perfect for the Orchestra which (as to Mozart's demands) was smaller than usual. The atmosphere was more intimate which was evident during pauses and rests where the crowd were completely silent in anticipation for what was to come.

The acoustics inside the hall complemented both symphonies and there was a certain indefinable depth and clarity to the music which aided in my enjoyment of the concert. The Wind Symphony was particularly impressive as the clarinet, oboe and French horn (traditionally difficult instruments to blend) played off each other seamlessly. The venue excellently accommodated the subtle interplay between the ensemble. Previous recordings I had listened to on Spotify and YouTube did not match the clear and vibrant acoustics in the Recital Hall.

Concertmaster Andrew Haveron was energetic and passionate from the get-go and the smaller-than-usual ensemble responded and matched his liveliness, which added to the quality of the performance.

The most enjoyable aspect of the concert was listening to the mellow tone of the clarinet and French horn instruments, whose complexity of sound is difficult to capture in digital recordings.

Listening to their smooth performance was both soothing and inspiring for my own clarinet playing.

The Sinfonia concertante is a less mainstream piece, possibly due to the slightly unclear history that surrounds it. However, Mozart's composition combines many of his well-known themes and finds a balance between vibrancy and tranquillity throughout the three movements. The soft graceful sections were relaxing and soothing to listen to, while the vibrant virtuosic passages were engaging and unpredictable. It was a great prelude for the more well-known Symphony No.29. I thought it was a good artistic direction to shine light on one of Mozart's less established pieces before performing one of his more renowned pieces in the same concert.

Listening to the vibrant opening motif ring around the Recital Hall brought a smile to my face as I allowed my brain to forget everything on my mind and just sit back and enjoy the music. This symphony was particularity enjoyable to listen to live as Mozart composed it during a time of his life where his music was transitioning from ‘festival noise’ to proper concert pieces and has been dubbed ‘a masterpiece from start to finish’. All these intricacies and details were on show at the live performance and is a major factor in why I enjoy listening to live classical music concerts.

Overall the concert was a thoroughly enjoyable experience! Listening to recordings of the pieces ahead of the performance increased my appreciation for live classical music concerts. I’ll be sure to return to a Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert for what looks to be an exciting remainder of the 2019 season.