Boise Philharmonic Charms the Morrison Center with Mozart and Schubert


Teen pianist George Li tackled Mozart at the Boise Philharmonic.
  • Teen pianist George Li tackled Mozart at the Boise Philharmonic's Oct. 20 performance.

Boise Philharmonic's second season offering, Mozart and Schubert, was held at the Morrison Center Oct. 20 and featured guest teen concert pianist George Li.

To kick off the performance, a member of the violin section walked on stage, introduced himself in a fast mumble and made a personal introduction of the music program—which was quite a contrast to the intro from the season’s opener. Following that, the evening’s conductor, Music Director Robert Franz, strode out, greeted the concert master, bowed and stepped onto the podium to raise his baton for the orchestra's first selection of the evening: Franz Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde.

Though Schubert is now considered one of the world's great composers, he wasn't always so recognizable. Virtually hidden away in Vienna, he mostly kept to himself. In fact, none of his symphonies were ever performed while he was living. But the eventual discovery and saving of Schubert’s manuscripts brought fresh content to mid-19th century composers, performers and their audiences.

According to the Philharmonic's program:

The story of the discovery of tonight’s pieces, The Overture to Rosamunde and Schubert’s Third Symphony, is similar. Who discovered them? Two enterprising Englishman: Arthur Gilbert—soon to be of Gilbert and Sullivan—and George Grove—who wrote Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Excited in 1865 by the unexpected find of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, and looking specifically for the music to Rosamunde, Gilbert and Grove found in the hands of a Viennese doctor a pile of Schubert’s forgotten works, including five other symphonies — Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6.

Rosamunde proved to be an excellent warm-up for the evening’s other fare.

With Wolfgang Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, guest performer Li showed his technical veracity and a certain polish that wins competitions. Though Li is only 17 years old, he is an active, emerging concert pianist seeking first-tier performing stages. And he's doing this while he defines and develops his career-building repertoire. Li performed Mozart well enough—though the piece itself conveys the musical line and moves the listener along—but the interpretive depth of a pianist so young is questionable.

Li’s best of show was Mozart's third movement and the two encore pieces: Franz Liszt’s La Campanella and Frederic Chopin’s Waltz in E minor.

Overall, the Boise Philharmonic gave another audience-pleasing performance—bringing the sizable crowd to its feet, loudly clapping approval.