Because this year is a Mozart bicentennial, the 200th anniversary of his death, we are getting to hear even more of his music than usual, a delightful consequence. On Saturday at the Tawes Recital Hall, however, William Hudson and the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra found another reason for a Mozart celebration -- his birthday.
The program touched on most of the idioms of his artistry. It opened with the overture and two scenes from "The Magic Flute," played with sturdy clarity and well-focused ensemble and sung with a sense of fun and style by Lisa Erickson, Karen Olson, Samantha Phillips and Eve Kornhauser as the Queen of the Night's ladies; Yasuhiro Miura as Tamino; and Sterling Scroggins as Papageno.
The Maryland Boy Choir joined the orchestra for an unsettled performance of the "Ave Verum Corpus," a deceptively simple gem of homophonic writing that has defeated other choruses, and closed the first half with a "Happy Birthday, Mozart" spoof, written by Lawrence Moss, that pitted "Happy Birthday to You" against several of Mozart's familiar themes.
Pianist Santiago Rodriguez was the soloist in the G Major Concerto, No. 17, playing with a decisive precision that gave the music sharp outlines. The orchestra matched his controlled intensity and provided reliable support.
The Tawes Recital Hall is a very small space for such a lot of musicmakers, and all the performances seemed loud. It would have been nicer if they had been a little further from the audience.