17 Mar 2011
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New Zealand pianist Diedre Irons’ voice glows with pleasure when she talks about the three Mozart piano concertos she will perform with Vector Wellington Orchestra this year.
“They’re so wonderful and so completely different from each other too. To have such variety within a single genre illustrates the incredible genius of Mozart," Irons says.
The A Major concerto Irons plays in the VWO’s first subscription concert for 2011 is in some ways the most straightforward. But it has its surprises, she says.
“Memorising accurately from the start is really important. The gesture
of each and every phrase, the slightest nuances, contribute to a performance which is truly alive,” she says.
“There's nothing worse than 'wooden' Mozart.”
“I have to admit to referring in my mind to the Mozart portrayed in the movie
Amadeus. He was very down-to-earth, almost a rogue. Of course there is a great deal of delicacy, but there is also robustness, humour, passion - in fact all the elements we find in Mozart's operas.”
Irons has just retired from the New Zealand School of Music where she was programme leader of classical performance. A graduate of the Curtis School of Music, Irons studied under legendary pianist Rudolf Serkin. Nearly two decades of New Zealand pianists have benefited in turn from Irons’ mentorship.
But Irons is excited to have more time to concentrate on her own performances again, after a fairly hectic few years helping to guide the amalgamation of the Massey and Victoria University music schools. She has played and recorded extensively in the past, including major partnerships with the New Zealand String Quartet and the Christchurch Symphony.
The VWO’s subscription season features Mozart’s three greatest piano concertos, beginning with the A Major concerto, No. 23, on April 16. It consists of two perfectly balanced outer movements, instantly recognisable, flanking a gently rocking Adagio with a piercingly beautiful melody.
The first concert opens with Debussy’s Nocturnes, inspired by the paintings of Whistler. Hardly nocturnal, the dancing, shimmering Nocturnes glitter with orchestral colour. Borodin’s Second Symphony ends the concert with Russian vigour. Among its wealth of folkloric melodies, the gorgeous Andante stands out.
With Diedre Irons, piano; Cantoris choir; and Marc Taddei, conductor
Tickets available from Ticketek, 0800 842 538 www.ticketek.co.nz
Title: Launching Mozart
Venue: Wellington Town Hall
Date: 16 April 2011