To convey without distortion the complexity of Mozart's genius in less than two hours must rank as a minor miracle. Leo Smit succeeded last night at the Library of Congress because he enlisted the aid of the only person who could possibly accomplish such a feat -- Mozart himself.
A pianist and composer, Smit has put together a compelling, satisfying picture of Mozart, using nothing but the composer's own letters and music. Aptly titled "Mozart: A Self-Portrait," the program uses striking juxtapositions of the most carefully chosen excerpts to carry the listener from one brilliant insight to another. Beyond the humor, the tenderness, the beauty, the earthiness, there come across, above all, Mozart's dazzling awareness and his unfailing grace of expression. This is not the blind, prattling child of the play "Amadeus." This is genius not afraid to play the fool but never deceived, even by his own foolishness.
Smit's genial manner brought the readings to life in delightful fashion. The musical selections were realized with exceptional sensitivity and intelligence both by Smit and his fellow musicians, soprano Rosalind Rees, mezzo-soprano Kimball Wheeler, tenor Max Galloway and baritone Kevin Elliott, all members of the Gregg Smith Singers.