Classical: Happy Birthday Mozart, from Dittersdorf and Pergolesi

Classical Opera Company Royal College of Music London

WITH MOZART'S music being played daily all over the world, a birthday concert sounds like a dull adventure. So why not give the opposition a chance? Or ,more especially, those whose feeble light was dimmed by Mozart's genius?

Such logic partly inspired the Classical Opera Company's appearance at the Royal College of Music's Britten Theatre on the eve of the birthday, in an event that featured music by Dittersdorf and Pergolesi, as well as by Mozart himself. In the same venue last summer, the ensemble gave their operatic debut with his early Apollo and Hyacinthus. Since then, the theatre's become something of a home to this young, aspiring orchestra. Their authentic timbre of gut strings and reedy woodwind sounds well in its dry yet not unkind acoustic. So too, on Tuesday, did the voice of the actor Greg Wise, noted as Willoughby in the film of Sense and Sensibility, and here reading excerpts from the late Ted Hughes's Tales from Ovid.

The first half's theme also took a mythical turn, with a Dittersdorf symphony, The Four Ages of Man, preceding a Pergolesi cantata, Orfeo, before it came to a quietly resounding end with the soprano Mary Plazas' account of the Mozart concert aria, "Ah, lo previdi". Granted, the band could just as well have unearthed some Mozartian rarities. But the contrast of these other works both refreshed the ear and pointed a moral: banality touches every age, and our standard view of the golden days of classical music may be as simplistic as the Ovidian ages of gold, silver, bronze and iron that Dittersdorf depicted. Iron proved of special interest; braying trumpets recalled high-energy Beethoven, but without a theme in sight. Pre-classical minimalism?

The cantata Orfeo, by contrast, was accomplished and cute, Plazas charting in firm melodic lines the tale of the songster from Thrace. Now almost forgotten save for his "Miserere", Pergolesi, who died even younger than Mozart, yet much more famous, was suavely talented; but his ideas scarcely compared with those of "Ah, lo previdi," where, in the closing aria, a consoling oboe lulled the voice to an acceptance of grief above a plucked accompaniment that bore the imperishable Mozart hallmark.

Likewise the Jupiter Symphony, the single item in the second half. The conductor Ian Page's thoughtful tempi made for a brisk yet never breathless first movement, and an andante relaxing at a speed that also gave point to the main theme's significant silences. Throughout, a semi-chorus of burbling oboes and bassoons was a strata of in-built comedy. That miraculous finale moved in every sense, propelled by the skill of these players and the kind of invention that placed the birthday hero way ahead of any rivals.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all