For its first program of the season, the Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra will perform the aforementioned early Divertimento; the romantic Piano Concerto No. 23, featuring Jon Nakamatsu; the first of Mozart’s four last, increasingly complex symphonies, No. 38, known as “Prague” after its premiere there in 1786; and the lyrical Oboe Concerto, featuring Laura Griffiths. This piece has only been known in this form since the 1920s when it was discovered that Mozart’s Flute Concerto, K.314, was a transcription of this previously composed work for oboe.

The Midsummer Mozart Festival program will be performed this evening, Thursday, July 17, 7:30 p.m., at Mission Santa Clara, SCU Campus, Santa Clara; Friday, July 18, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; Saturday, July 19, 6:30 p.m., Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Sonoma (outdoors), where dinner can be ordered with tickets; and Sunday, July 20, 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, here in Berkeley.

The second program of the festival will feature two spectacular compositions, the Serenade for Woodwinds and Contrabass, “Gran Partita,” and the Piano Concerto No. 24, with Nikolai Demidenko as soloist. In the “Gran Partita” Mozart plays six pairs of horns and a string bass like an organ. These are the greatest horn orchestrations before Duke Ellington. The Piano Concerto, one of only two that he wrote in a minor key, was one of the few pieces by Mozart to be popular in the 19th century. Its emotional sturm und drang anticipates romanticism.

This second program will be performed Thursday, July 24, 7:30 p.m., Mission Santa Clara, SCU Campus, Santa Clara; Friday, July 25, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; Saturday, July 26, 6:30 p.m., Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Sonoma; and Sunday, July 27, 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley.

For its unprecedented third week of programming, Midsummer Mozart has come up with three ambitious concerts. First, a solo piano recital bringing back Nikolai Demidenko to perform well-known favorites such as the Piano Sonata, another dark piece in a minor key; and the Adagio, K.540; as well as less well-known works like the remarkable, Bach-influenced Praeludium and Fugue, K.394; the touching Allegro, which he wrote for his wife Constanze and her youngest sister Sophie; and the almost never performed Andante for a mechanical organ. As a lagniappe, Demidenko will also give out with all 24 Preludes of Chopin’s Op. 28. This concert will only be performed on Thursday, July 31, 7:30 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley.

I read this here.

I’ve always thought George Cleve’s Mozart interpretations to be excellent. I played in the group for a number years (as second oboist) and certainly learned a ton of Mozart.

My only quibble with the article is the use of the word “unprecedented”. When I was in the group (back in the 80s) we did three weeks’ worth of concerts. In addition, we sometimes did a special concert at Davies and we did a run at Buena Vista Winery. So where the writer gets the idea that the third week is unprecedented I do not know.


  1. Yes, the article certainly is incorrect in stating that the third week of the Midsummer Mozart festival is “unprecedented”.

    I am currently participating in the festival on 2nd horn, for all three weeks. We just concluded our first week, which was probably the most demanding program.

    It’s been an amazing experience to play the same concert program in four different venues. The first, at the Mission Santa Clara, went well, even with a 5-second reverb delay.

    The 2nd concert was somewhat a shock at the very acoustically dead Herbst Theater.

    The 3rd concert was held outdoors at a winery in Sonoma. Players tell me that it’s been extremely HOT in past years, or sometimes very cold. Saturday was the latter; a stiff cool breeze threatened to blow our music off the stands, even with clothespins. To the orchestra’s and piano soloist’s credit, we turned out a very respectable performance in spite of the adverse playing conditions.

    Last night’s and final concert of the first week was held at the 1st Congregational church in Berkeley. The orchestra pulled it together marvelously for this performance. Laura Griffiths’ oboe playing was extremely fine — very expressive!

    I look forward to Week #2 with the Grand Partitta for thirteen wind instruments.

  2. Sure would have been great to attend a concert. Ah well. It’s a money thing.

    When I was in the orchestra we played at Herbst, Zellerbach at UC Berkeley, and … hmmm … it was Flint Center for a short time, but later Memorial Auditorium at Stanford. We had three weeks of those, along with the winery concerts (it was 112 one Sunday … dry heat, but still!) and other various things. (We played outdoor concerts at Montalvo for a time, too.) For a couple of years we played a gala at Davies, as I mentioned.

    I have wonderful memories of some absolutely incredible concerts.

    Hope you have a blast for the remaining weeks!