Pianist Mark Neiwirth's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 15 Saturday night can easily be summed up in one word.
Ahhh.Neiwirth, accompanied by the Intermountain Classical Orchestra, was not flashy - he played the concerto, Mozart's most difficult, with subtlety and understatement. Rather than force things, he allowed the music to wash over the audience gently, drawing it in and helping it forget the world outside.
If more people had heard Neiwirth's rendition of the well-known piece, there would surely have been less crime in the streets, fewer arguments between spouses and generally greater fellowship Saturday night.
Neiwirth, by the way, was a clinic in physical posture. Back straight, wrists strong, curved fingers lightly tripping over the keys - every teacher of beginning piano students would love to have had her pupils see him at it. When Neiwirth trilled between two notes, one could hardly see his fingers move.
The three pieces of the evening - the Mozart concerto, Haydn's Symphony No. 78 and Schubert's Symphony No. 5 - are all well-known and well-loved works, and the chamber orchestra did them justice. It played them with delicacy and taste, and the few technical blips and blurps (particularly during the Schubert piece) detracted very little.
The Haydn symphony is often performed, and with good reason. One of only two symphonies Haydn wrote in a minor key, it is melodic, accessible and fun. Occasionally the flute would join the violins in the melody, then the oboe would join in, then the oboe would do the honors without the flute - the melody would skip from one instrument to another while still maintaining its integrity.
Conductor Jeff Manookian's direction of frequent ritards and extended rests was as noticeable - and as appropriate - as was his direction of the notes.
The Schubert symphony is good for sitting down to and letting one's stress melt away - the opening phrase is almost heart-breakingly beautiful, and the relatively long andante con moto movement is flowing and melodic. Appropriately, the orchestra did not insert itself into the music unduly, but let Schubert speak for himself.