Michael Francis and Anne-Marie McDermott Inspire Exotic Fare in Opening Mainly Mozart Festival Concert

Anne-Marie McDermott
San Diego Story

Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott has been a featured soloist with Mainly Mozart since 1996 for good reason. As an interpreter of keyboard music of the Classical era she has few equals, and most are no longer extant. Parenthetically, I had never held the piano music of Joseph Haydn in particularly high esteem until I heard McDermott play recitals devoted to his music, after which I realized just how shallow my judgement of Haydn’s piano oeuvre was.

McDermott brought both her panache and exquisite ear for illuminating, salient details of touch and phrasing to Mozart’s C Major Piano Concerto, K. 415, revealing a thematically and structurally rich Mozart concerto that is sadly under programmed today. If orchestral music directors imagine that this C Major Mozart Piano Concerto is the wan stepsister to the more popular C Major Concerto, K. 467 (yes, the one that was used so conspicuously in the movie Elvira Madigan), I can only hope McDermott’s championing of the C Major, K. 415, will change that view.

Both McDermott and Francis captured Mozart’s apparently whimsical but truly cunning shifts of mood and style in this C Major Piano Concerto, catching the casual listener off guard at every turn. Or as Mozart wrote in a letter to his father, passages “from which conoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction, but written in such a way that the less discriminating cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why.” I would say something similar about McDermott’s interpretation: even if you haven’t the faintest notion of how superbly she is executing Mozart’s score, you cannot help but be pleased to bask in its beauty.

Read the full review.