Mozart is a reliable crowdpleaser, but the Mahler Chamber Orchestra offer a particularly inspired performance of the composer’s final works.
In a frenzied six-week burst of creativity, Mozart wrote his last three symphonies – Symphony No. 39, 40, and 41. Symphony No. 39 is buoyant and effortless, a defining characteristic of Mozart’s work, while Symphony No. 40 is a rare venture to a minor key, a scale associated with darker themes and heroic struggle.
At the Adelaide Town Hall on Sunday, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra—featuring 45 soloists and conductor Daniel Harding—performed these symphonies to a delighted and engaged audience. As a chamber orchestra, their performance was warm and intimate, yet also had an intensity that commanded attention. The musicians felt their music—leaning forward and back, swaying—while Harding, as conductor, moved elegantly. With percussion and second violins to Harding’s right, rather than the traditional left, the resulting sound was luminous.
The performance ended in an a standing ovation, with an enthusiastic and rapturous applause. Both the joyous and darker moods of Mozart’s three symphonies were communicated, and the audience was clearly touched by the prowess of the Orchestra.
Mahler Chamber Orchestra performed at the Adelaide Town Hall on Sunday, March 10