SSO, Timothy Chooi bring Mozart Fest to a charm­ing and pow­er­ful close

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION - JONATHAN CHARL­TON jcharl­ton@post­ Twit­­ton

Ever won­der what a world class in­stru­ment sounds like?

Say, a $5.5 mil­lion Stradi­var­ius vi­o­lin?

Soloist Timothy Chooi pro­vided an an­swer Satur­day night and I’d tell you what it is, ex­cept my jaw is still stuck on the floor.

Chooi high­lighted the Saska­toon Sym­phony Or­ches­tra’s Mozart themed pro­gram, which brought the week­long Mozart Fest to a close, play­ing Mozart’s 5th and fi­nal Vi­o­lin Con­certo.

His first note started so softly, it was im­pos­si­ble to tell pre­cisely when the in­stru­ment be­gan pro­duc­ing sound.

Chooi’s per­for­mance was smooth and pow­er­ful, light and some­how play­ful. It’s not just that he can shred, but that each note has pur­pose.

When the or­ches­tra cut out, the notes seemed to soar through TCU Place, suck­ing in the au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion. You could hear a pin drop — or at least the half dozen peo­ple nurs­ing coughs.

When his mini-so­los ended, he would open his hand as if to let the notes evap­o­rate into the air.

Af­ter Chooi’s tour de force, the sym­phony played Mozart’s Sym­phony 41, nick­named “Jupiter” af­ter his death.

It starts with the ur­gency of a fi­nale, while the sec­ond move­ment fea­tures a won­der­ful use of dis­so­nance in the low strings.

The third move­ment is short, light yet mourn­ful. Fi­nally, Mozart in the fourth move­ment sur­prises the au­di­ence with a five-part fugue to set up the fi­nal race to the fin­ish line.

Satur­day’s con­cert pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing con­trast to some of the or­ches­tra’s re­cent per­for­mances, par­tic­u­larly Beethoven’s 9th last spring. Where Beethoven pours emo­tion into ev­ery sin­gle note, Mozart dances along the page.

It’s just so con­sis­tently light and pleas­ant, the mu­si­cal equiv­a­lent of an an­gel food cake. Mozart’s trom­bones may shout at the end of the Over­ture to the Magic Flute, but they don’t blast.

Mozart hasn’t been played much in Saska­toon; judg­ing by Satur­day’s con­cert, that’s a shame.

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