VMO to Bring Out the Surprises in Mozart and Beethoven

Spring is the season of surprises. The spring concert of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra (VMO) is expected to bring some pleasant surprises. Unexpectedly, these surprises come from some of the most familiar works of classical music—Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5!

The 2019 spring concert, under the baton of VMO Music Director Maestro Ken Hsieh, will take to the stage on April 5 (Friday), at 7:30pm, at Shaughnessy Heights United Church (1550 W 33rd Ave., Vancouver). It will open with the world premiere of local composer Beckman’s new work “Flux”, to be followed by the works of Mozart and Beethoven. Bogdan Dulu, Romanian-born pianist with a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of British Columbia, will be the soloist of the concerto.

The twenty-three piano concertos composed by Mozart are among his greatest musical achievements, and the best known of them all is the No. 21 Concerto in C major. French composer Olivier Messiaen, in talking about the second movement (the slow movement) of this concerto, is known to have said: “It contains one of the most beautiful melodies of Mozart and perhaps of all music.”

Although the melodies may sound familiar and easy flowing, the concerto, as pointed out by Leopold Mozart, the composer’s father, is “astonishingly difficult” to play. The difficulty lies in playing it smoothly and elegantly—as Mozart himself did in the premiere performance of the work in Vienna. Dulu’s performance promises to surprise you with its elegance of execution.

Everything in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (commonly known as the Symphony of Fate) seems familiar to us: it’s opening four-note “short-short-short-long” motif (which is said to represent Fate knocking at the door), its transformation from the tragic beginning (in C minor) to the triumphal end (in C major), and so on and so forth.

But there are still many surprises to be found. For example, the transitional third movement (Scherzo) sounds mysterious and seems to go nowhere but eventually leads directly into the triumphant outburst of the finale. Although it is not true, as is often remarked, that the last movement marks the first use of piccolo (the highest woodwind instrument), contrabassoon (the lowest woodwind instrument) and trombones in a symphony, they do all have an important role to play. And they sound wonderful. Bravo!