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Sir Galway, wife entertain Notre Dame

Brian Doxtader | Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sir James Galway is a living legend in classical music circles, and his performance on Sunday in the Leighton Concert Hall of the Debartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) was as impressive as they come.

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, flutist Galway and his wife Lady Jeanne Galway have embarked on a North American tour with the Polish Chamber Orchestra. If Sunday’s performance is any indicator, Galway certainly seems intent on putting the “art” back into Mozart.

The program consisted of four major works, three of which were composed by Mozart – Serenade No. 13 in G Major, K. 525 (“Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”), Flute Concerto No. 2 in D Major, K. 314 and Symphony No. 40 in g minor, K. 550. The final piece, “The Magic Flutes” (written by Galway’s friend David Overton), was a homage to Mozart and featured various works by the composer strung together into the form of a standard symphony.

Galway said it received its inaugural performance in South Bend with Sunday’s performance. As such, only the first, third and fourth movements were played, as Overton requested the second be omitted.

The program was extremely well-selected, featuring many of the genius’ most famous works. “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” was probably the best-known, though Symphony No. 40 is also one of Mozart’s most noted pieces. Galway himself only played on half of the selections, Flute Concerto No. 2 and Overton’s The Magic Flutes. As he has recently taken up conducting, Galway demonstrated his new endeavor on the other two works.

The Polish Chamber Orchestra was capable throughout, especially in Galway’s up-tempo take on Molto Allegro from Symphony No. 40. Though “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” is one of classical music’s most famous pieces, the Polish Chamber Orchestra’s performance was still noteworthy for its graceful musicianship.

Galway’s wife, Lady Jeanne Galway, was featured on The Magic Flutes – the program noted that Mozart never actually wrote a solo piece for two flutes, thus necessitating Overton’s oft-clever reworking.

Galway seemed to have a great time, bantering with the crowd and becoming animated whilst playing. This was infectious, as both the audience and the orchestra seemed to enjoy this interaction. His high spirits poured over into the music, which was impressively played throughout.

Galway is oft-considered one of the greatest flutists in the world, and his performance did not disappoint. The orchestra stayed right with him, never flagging in energy or musicianship. He flew through Flute Concerto No. 2 with passion, purpose and artistry. The duet with his wife fared slightly less well, as the players seemed more hesitant and less relaxed than on the solo works.

Still, it was a good selection for Mozart enthusiasts, who could pick out snippets of their favorite compositions within the framework of Overton’s faux-symphonic piece.

The concert featured no less than four encores, all of which were short, but crowd-pleasing. Highlights include Mozart’s “Turkish Rondo” and a rendition of “Danny Boy,” which Galway described as a “musical prayer.” Though these encores meant the concert ran on the long side (over two hours), it was kept enjoyable by Galway’s well-chosen selections and his nimble musicianship.

Galway’s performance in the Leighton Concert Hall was an impressive concert by one of the world’s most noteworthy musicians.