Classical music lovers won’t need a time machine to hear three piano concerti by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed on a fortepiano.
Thanks to University of Houston professor Timothy Hester, audiences can hear these works just as they were rendered in the 18th century. Using a replica of a 1795 fortepiano, Hester will perform and conduct the composer’s music during “The Amadeus Project: Bringing the Past into Focus” at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 28 in UH’s Moores Opera House.
He will be joined by the Amadeus Project Orchestra, which includes members of Ars Lyrica, the Cambini Woodwind Quintet and other noted musicians. Like Hester, the orchestra will perform using instruments that were common during the period these concerti were composed.
“I don’t believe this has been done in Houston,” he said. “It is not every day that audiences can hear a Mozart piano concerto performed by a period instrument orchestra. It will provide audiences with a memorable musical experience.”
Hester will lead the orchestra through Mozart’s piano concerti in A Major (K.414), G Major (K. 453) and C Minor (K. 491). The fortepiano he will play was donated to UH’s Moores School of Music by arts patron Marjorie Horning. Renowned piano-builder Chris Maene constructed this instrument.
The fortepiano is an early version of the modern day piano and was used by classical music’s top composers (Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart). It is smaller than a grand piano, with keys that are much lighter to press. Fortepianos also lack the foot pedals that are found in contemporary pianos. Instead, levers are located underneath the keyboard and the performer uses his/her knees to engage them.
“It’s a very unique sound and quite beautiful,” Hester said. “The music that Mozart wrote really makes sense for this instrument. It’s been very enlightening to perform his music using the right kind of instrument.”
Adding to the experience of hearing these works performed on period instruments will be the concert hall. The Moores Opera House, Hester said, is a perfect setting for a performance like this.
“Recently, some members of the Academy of Ancient Music called this one of the finest halls in the world,” Hester said. “It’s a very honest and pure hall. Musicians can play as softly as they want to and know that every note will project throughout the hall. The beauty of this music is that some moments are very tender and very soft. For musicians, the music might not seem audible, but within this hall, everyone will enjoy it.
Tickets for “The Amadeus Project: Bringing Past into Focus” ate $15 and $10 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the Moores Box Office and by calling 713-743-3313. To learn more about UH’s Moores School of Music, visit http://www.uh.edu/class/music/.