The last three symphonies of Mozart from a natural, brilliant succession of musical pefection, making an ideal program. Yet not until last night had the National Symphony Orchestra put these three works together in a single evening.
Sarah Caldwell conducted them at Wolf Trap, giving her large audience the richness of Mozart's maturity and the astonishing contrasts in emotional and musical content contained in these final testaments to his symphonic writing. There are the fascinating key relationships: E flat, for Mozart the symbol of human dignity; G minor, his hallmark for human grief; and C major, his sign of virtuoso brilliance.
These three masterpieces were written at the time of Mozart's deepest personal despair, yet that terrible torment, fired by the death of his fourth child, emerges only in the G-Minor Symphony. Miraculously his spirit triumphed, over the tragedies that threatened his life.
Much of his struggle surfaced in Caldwell's conducting of the three symphonies. She adoped a strong forward motion in every movement. There was firm vigor in the shaping of the opening of the E-Flat Symphony and total awareness of inner strife in the G Minor. The andante of Symphony No. 39 lacked the inner tension needed to sustain it, and there was trouble in the trio of the G Minor. But the musicians of the orchestra, especially its first clarinet, Loren Kitt, who had singular duties both in the E Flat and the G Minor, were stout allies for Caldwell in projecting the Mozartean spirit. It was an evening in which musical nobility triumphed. t