John Axelrod

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7 Nov 2010
Ouest France/le Courrier du Ouest

le Courier-Ouest France
by Lelian, October 18, 2010

ONPL. And the star was .... Mozart!

In breaking many codes, Music Director John Axelrod, who was also pianist for the sublime Piano Concerto No. 23, had a program that was both explosive and penetrating. Explosive by the staging and space of this sad life of the young genius Wolfgang, told here by his protector and executioner Salieri (the venerable violinist Ivry Gitlis as the wise old narrator) and embodied by a twirling and disarming Nicolas Moreau (Mozart) infatuated with a very "free" Contance, in the person of Noémie Kocher.

The show follows the play "Amadeus" by Peter Shaffer and Milos Forman's eponymous film. It shows a Mozart at turns salacious, provocative, and phantasmagoric. One discovers a Salieri devoured by the monster with green eyes, like a visionary and diabolical Othello. The very presence of all these actors at the heart of the public's Congress Center does everything to destabilize and then attract and enchant an audience accustomed to the conventional classical concerts.

One enters through the richness and power of Mozart's music. In symphony, serenade, concerto, opera overtures and Requiem with the ONPL chorus particularly in good voice and the orchestra, led by concertmaster Constantin Serban, offers some of Mozart's rebellious miracles with all the joy and contemplation required. Special mention also to the soprano Theodora Gheorghiu for the enchanting aria "Matern aller Arten.". Ultimately, this bio-drama musicalo, created by John Axelrod in Houston in 1998, resonated in every sense, from the bottom to the top of creation. 

Ouest France, October 18, 2010

Mozart staged by ONPL: a show!

Decidedly, the arrival of new chief Axelrod at the helm of the ONPL gave the orchestra a rejuvenation and a healthy dose of dynamism. The oncerts last Tuesday and Wednesday, devoted to the divine Mozart, were, in fact, genuine performances. In the main auditorium of the congress center, bursting full and sold out, the ONPL played a slice of life of Mozart in Vienna, struggling with his rival Salieri, or joking with his wife Constance, all three played by actors, including the venerable Ivry Gitlis as Salieri. These slices of life are cleverly interspersed with works of the master, sometimes a movement of a symphony, serenade, a concerto, sometimes an opera overture. All under the agile baton of John Axelrod, with bows, reeds and mouthpieces of the musicians of the ONPL visibly galvanized.

Last act: Mozart is dead, his lifeless body lies on stage show and the orchestra, the great chorus of ONPL and four soloists perform for him the ultimate work: his own Requiem.

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