Review: BRSO warms audience with Mozart

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2011 file photo, Alicia Keys attends the Lifetime and Sony Pictures Television premiere screening
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2011 file photo, Alicia Keys attends the Lifetime and Sony Pictures Television premiere screening "Five" at Skylight SoHo in New York. Keys will produce as well as compose original music for the Broadway premiere of "Stick Fly," opening Dec. 8, at the Cort Theatre in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

Mozart has a way of warming a concert hall, even with the threat of snow looming over Baton Rouge.

And the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra’s full program of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s compositions on Thursday made many in the audience forget about the dropping temperatures outside the Baton Rouge River Center Theatre for the Performing Arts.

The concert was the fourth in the orchestra’s Investar Masterworks Series and featured its principal clarinetist Robert DiLutis as soloist in Mozart’s “Concerto for Clarinet, K.622, A minor,” along with an ensemble of its wind section in the “Suite from Gran Partita, Serenade No. 10.”

“The last time Maestro Timothy Muffitt did an all-Mozart concert, we had similar weather,” said Alan Hopper, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra president. “I asked him to have his next all-Mozart concert in August, when we’d really need weather like this.”

That brought laughter from the audience, which was instantly captivated on the orchestra’s first note of “The Abduction from Seraglio Overture.” It’s important to note that the orchestra performed this program without its lower brass section, which allowed for the springtime lightness in the selections.

There’s a sense of triumph in “Sengalio.” Mozart composed it after moving to Vienna in 1761 after leaving his position with the Archbishop of Salzburg. It was his first composition as a freelance artist, and it proved to be a success.

And more than 250 years later, the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra captured that triumph in a perfect blend of strings and woodwinds.

It set the stage for the hypnotic smoothness of DiLutis’ solo, which had many audience members on their feet during the applause.

One of the evening’s most pleasant surprises was the wind ensemble. A lone bass player was the only string player during the seven-part “Suite from Gran Partita.” Even conductor and music director Muffitt wasn’t on stage.

The orchestra pit was raised for this piece, placing the ensemble closer to the audience for a more intimate chamber concert experience.

The suite’s movements were short and light, and the ensemble’s blend and balance led the audience on a sweet musical journey into Mozart’s magic, adding to the warmth of the evening.

Which may be why some people seemed surprised when ushers warned them that it was cold outside upon leaving the theater.