Review: KSO Chamber Orchestra, “Mozart and Haydn”

In case there are any readers who haven’t noticed, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Classics Series at the Bijou is right up there as my favorite music series in Knoxville. The reasons for this are pretty obvious. The clarity of acoustics in the Bijou is simply stunning in its naturalness, allowing nuance and subtlety of tone and texture to easily reach every seat in the house. The KSO’s programming, too, reaches deep into both the often-performed and the rarely-performed works in the repertoire, a reach that complements the orchestra’s other series programming and really provides an attraction for really serious listeners.

jamesfellenbaum_200_284For its opening concert of the Chamber Classics season on Sunday, the KSO under maestro James Fellenbaum, chose three iconic—but also welcome—representatives of the Classical Period. After opening with a bright and cheerful take on Mozart’s Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro, Fellenbaum welcomed pianist Kevin Class for a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467.

Class, a UT faculty pianist, has become well known for his recital series with the UT School of Music that cover all-inclusive performances of certain categories, such as all of Brahms’ chamber music with piano and the complete Mozart piano sonatas. In addition, he is the regular collaborator with Gabriel Lefkowitz on the KSO’s Concertmaster Series of chamber music. On Sunday’s concert, Class gave the audience his usual display of stunning technical accuracy that properly illustrates Mozart’s delightful musical oxymoron: complex simplicity.

One of the downsides of Mozart’s prominence in the Classical Period is that audiences often overlook the brilliance of Mozart’s older contemporary, Joseph Haydn. Thankfully, the KSO took measures to correct that unfortunate oversight by programming Haydn’s final symphonic effort, the No. 104 in D Major. The performance was a clear example of Haydn’s mature brilliance as well as a showcase of consummate ensemble clarity and balance from Fellenbaum and the orchestra.


Upcoming KSO performances–

  • “Gabriel Lefkowitz and Friends” at the Knoxville Museum of Art
    Brahms: Sonata No. 1 in G Major
    Schubert: “Trout” Quintet
    Wednesday and Thursday, September 28 and 29, 7:00 p.m.
  • Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, conductor James Fellenbaum
    Rossini: Semiramide Overture
    Puccini: music from Manon Lescaut
    Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
    Thursday and Friday, October 13 and 14, 7:30 p.m.
    Tennessee Theatre
  • “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires”
    KSO Chamber Orchestra, conductor James Fellenbaum
    Chamber Classics Series at the Bijou
    Sunday, October 30, 2:30 p.m.