Mozart at the Siam Bayshore

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A full house of enthusiastic concert-goers welcomed Bangkok’s long-established Pro Musica Orchestra recently in an all-Mozart programme conducted by the renowned H.E. Admiral M. L. Usni Pramoj, one of Thailand’s most respected musicians.  He recently celebrated his eightieth birthday at a special tribute concert at Bangkok’s Four Seasons Hotel.  M. L. Usni Pramoj studied law at Oxford University and has been named as a Thai National Artist yet still performs duties as a Privy Councillor and manager of His Majesty’s Private Property Office. 

The concert began with Mozart’s First Symphony, written in London in 1764 when the composer was only eight years old and undertaking a strenuous three-year European tour.  The Mozart family lived there for over a year, renting rooms at a house in Ebury Street where a blue plaque commemorates their stay.  The young Wolfgang wrote his first two symphonies in London and regularly gave piano recitals before admiring audiences.  Mozart’s father, Leopold wrote home to friends complaining about London’s high prices.  Some things, it seems don’t change.

The twenty-four piece Pro Musica Orchestra poses for a group photo.The twenty-four piece Pro Musica Orchestra poses for a group photo.

Mozart’s First Symphony is a remarkable achievement and like several other early symphonies, was scored for two oboes, two horns and strings.  It received a competent performance from the 23-piece Pro Musica Orchestra.  The lively last movement was played with an excellent sense of rhythm, though it seemed that the very dry acoustic might have been something of a challenge.

The orchestra really got into its stride in Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, written in 1779 when the composer was on another of his European tours.  It’s really a double concerto for violin, viola and orchestra and it featured two of Thailand’s finest string players, Siripong Tiptan (violin) and Tasana Nagavajara (viola).  These highly accomplished musicians gave a sharply focused and thoughtfully articulate reading of the work.  The orchestra played with precision, excellent phrasing and careful dynamic control.

Siam Bayshore owner Kamala Sukosol (right) presents flowers of appreciation to soloist Siripong Tiptan while conductor H.E. Admiral M.L. Usni Pramoj looks on.Siam Bayshore owner Kamala Sukosol (right) presents flowers of appreciation to soloist Siripong Tiptan while conductor H.E. Admiral M.L. Usni Pramoj looks on.

The delightfully sunny and charming Symphony No 29 concluded the concert.  The work was composed in Mozart’s home-town of Salzburg.  He was seventeen at the time and had just returned from a trip to Vienna with his father to meet an old family friend named Anton Mesmer (yes, he of hypnotism fame).  The four-movement symphony was completed in April 1774 and despite the composers’ tender age it’s a highly accomplished work.  The first movement, which opens quietly on the strings, exudes elegance and charm.  The slow movement is a lovely serenade for muted violins which brought some beautiful string tone from the orchestra.  The dashing finale was taken at a fair old gallop, revealing firm and energetic ensemble playing.

String players from the Pro Musica Orchestra smile after giving a stirring performance of work by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the Siam Bayshore Hotel in Pattaya on Saturday, July 12.String players from the Pro Musica Orchestra smile after giving a stirring performance of work by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the Siam Bayshore Hotel in Pattaya on Saturday, July 12.

M. L. Usni Pramoj is a careful and precise conductor and it certainly looked as though the members of the orchestra were enjoying themselves.  They were led by concert master Leo Phillips, a fine British violinist who has led many world-renowned orchestras in over sixty countries.  He was very much in control as leader of the Pro Musica Orchestra resulting in excellent ensemble playing, especially among the strings.

The concert was presented by Pattaya Classical Music.  You can get information about forthcoming events at their website, www.pattayaclassical music.com.