Next Thursday, look to the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra for a truly interesting program. Two works will be featured: The Symphony No. 39 of W.A. Mozart and Olivier Messiaen’s Un Sourire.The Mozart Symphony No. 39 is one of his last symphonies, composed the same summer as his last and quite famous “Jupiter” Symphony. The 39th Symphony, like so many others that Mozart composed, is full of both bounding energy and somber, reflective passages. The clarinets in particular, which Mozart greatly favored at this time, get a large piece of the action in this symphony. Unfortunately, this piece is not one of Mozart’s most performed. However, as music scholar Elizabeth Schwarm Glesner points out, this is a “work of inspiration that, due to its rarity, can still surprise and delight”.
One might think that a piece by a 20th century composer might seem out of place on the same program as Mozart, but this piece in particular fits perfectly. Un Sourire, which translates to “A Smile”, is Messiaen’s homage to Mozart, whose music smiles down through the ages. The piece was written in 1989 to honor the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death, and was given its American premiere by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1992. Though the piece may be titled A Smile, don’t go expecting a big yellow smiley-face. Instead, this pensive, appealing piece will leave you with a relaxed, pleasant feeling.
The Lawrence Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Bridget-Michaele Reischl, performs Thursday, April 8 at 8:00 pm in the Memorial Chapel.