Bath Mozartfest is a 9-day, 16-concert feast of some of the finest classical music known to man, brought to life by acclaimed international artists in stunning period venues each November against the beautiful backdrop of the Georgian city of Bath. As the name suggests, the music of Mozart lies at the heart of the festival, however, Artistic Director Amelia Freedman also allows a broad range of other composers into the mix; from those who influenced him to those whom he influenced – this year from the Renaissance to the 20th century.
That said, the 2016 and 26th annual Bath Mozartfest will open with a tantalising celebration of Mozart, with the all-female Vertavo String Quartet performing the maestro’s ‘String Quartet in G Major, K 387’ – one of the set of quartets which the composer dedicated to his ‘dear friend’ Joseph Haydn. This opening concert also includes works by Janáček and Beethoven and promises to be a sensational curtain raiser.
There are all-Mozart concerts given by the Nash Ensemble, based on his famous Leipzig Gewandhaus concert series of January 1883, and also by The English Concert, directed by Harry Bicket. This concert, in Bath’s ancient Abbey, will feature the acclaimed soprano Lucy Crowe, and include arias from Mozart’s early operas, a piece from his unfinished ‘C minor Mass’, and the famous motet ‘Exultate, jubilate’. Mozart’s work also features in concerts by the acclaimed Emerson String Quartet, here alongside Shostakovich and Beethoven; in the fine pianist Angela Hewitt’s recital; and Ensemble 360 will perform Mozart’s popular ‘Quintet for Clarinet and Strings’ alongside another evergreen work from the classical repertoire, Schubert’s ‘Octet for Wind and Strings’.
Big musical names abound, not least of all Sir Mark Elder who will conduct Manchester’s famous Hallé Orchestra in Bath’s extraordinary Art-Deco Forum. The Canadian violin virtuoso, James Ehnes, will perform Max Bruch’s ‘Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor’ – not the famous ‘No 1’ but its successor, and a work every bit as brilliant and dramatic. This concert will begin with Mendelssohn’s ‘Ruy Blas Overture’, and conclude with that most beloved of Beethoven’s symphonies, ‘No 66, the Pastoral’.
Another highlight of the ‘fest’ is certain to be The Cardinall’s Musick concert by candlelight in the atmospheric setting of St Mary’s Church, Bathwick. Under the baton of its director, Andrew Carwood, this critically acclaimed vocal consort will present a programme of Renaissance settings of the Psalms of David. These will include Allegri’s famous ‘Miserere mei’ and Victoria’s ‘Laudate Dominum’ alongside notable works by Palestrina and Gabrieli, and English composers including Tompkins, Weelkes and Byrd.
Lieder is often an under-represented art form, so the Mozartfest is particularly proud to present the brilliant baritone, Roderick Williams, and peerless accompanist, Roger Vignoles, in a performance of Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’. This performance will be followed by a question and answer session with the artists. There is also a weekday series of one-hour, 1pm lunchtime concerts which are guaranteed to brighten the darkest autumn day, with outstanding musicians including clarinetist Michael Collins and cellist Leonard Elschenbroich, rising stars the Elias String Quartet and a rare piano duet from Simon Crawford-Phillips and Philip Moore.
Saturday afternoon is the time for a special family concert featuring much-loved musical creatures: Prokofiev’s ‘Peter & the Wolf’ and Poulenc’s ‘Babar the Elephant’. The acclaimed actor and director Samuel West is the storyteller, and pianist Tim Horton will provide the music. While it is recommend for those aged 7 and above, past experience suggests that this concert will appeal to adults as much as children!
The 26th annual Bath Mozartfest runs from 11th – 19th November 2016 with performances held in various venues across Bath. Tickets (from £10 to £36) are available from Bath Box Office on 01225 463362 or by visiting the website where you will also find the full programme and further information.