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