Poised and precise, elegant and immaculate – these are some of the words that have been used to describe the performances of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and our Artistic Partner Mitsuko Uchida. Almost two years since our last performance together, we reunite for a tour that brings us through Germany and Switzerland to our annual residencies at Salzburg's Mozartwoche and London's Southbank Centre, sharing our celebrated approach to Mozart's piano concertos across the continent.
The two concertos, Nos. 23 & 24, are considered close siblings, one major, one minor, both written three weeks apart in a year when Mozart's creativity seemed to know no bounds; they were both written while he put the finishing touches to his opera Le nozze di Figaro. Both works showcase Mozart's recent innovation of creating a free exchange of materials and ideas between piano and orchestra, creating a new musicial situation that enabled all the dynamic intimacy of chamber music in an orchestral setting, the ideal representation for what makes the partnership between Uchida and the MCO so special.
While in the German and Austrian legs of the tour, Mozart's Serenata notturna forms the centrepiece, another Viennese composer provides contrast in Switerland and the United Kingdom. Anton Webern is part of what is now known as the Second Viennese School, and his works are immaculately constructed and immensely concentrated distillations of classical form, romantic expression, and modernist rigour. Mitsuko Uchida herself is a passionate devotee of this music. She connects the centuries that separate Webern from Mozart by seamlessly transitioning from the formers Variations for solo piano, Op. 27, into the latter's C-minor concerto, after the MCO are left to lead themselves alone through Webern's sparse atonal soundscape in Five Movements, Op. 5.