Mozart's last symphony, No. 41, may have nothing to do with its nickname, “Jupiter,” but it spun its way into the San Antonio Symphony's solar system of sound Friday night.
No. 41 was one of three works, all completely different yet special and beloved, that added up to a highly satisfying program. The ballet suite “Rodeo” by American Aaron Copland and Frenchman Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G rounded out the concert.
“Jupiter” is a top-level treasure in music literature, but somehow the remarkable movement is the slower second one. It sounds like a soul bravely fighting through illness. It was elegantly shaped by Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing.
The soaring, whirlwind finale was assisted by the burnished glow from the basses.
All the elements in the Ravel concerto hit the spot. Pianist Ewa (pronounced “Eva”) Kupiec emphasized the schizophrenic nature of the first and final movements, with their Gershwin inflections.
Kupiec, a native of Poland who lives in Hanover, Germany, excelled in the tender, reflective middle section with the passage that sounds like a curving creek flowing through a forest, the piano ripples accompanied by the English horn.
I heard the great pianist Philippe Entremont play this concerto decades ago with the San Antonio Symphony. Kupiec was every bit his match. It was her second appearance here, playing Beethoven's Fifth Concerto a couple of years ago.
The orchestra emphatically delivered the cascading end to the first movement.
The program opened with the Copland suite, the orchestra having more fun than ever this season as they hollered vocally during part of the exuberant “Hoedown” section.
Lang-Lessing prepared the orchestra to bring out the sense of rural life with rough and soft textures, plus plenty of pizzazz.
Mostly, though, “Rodeo” describes scenes of youth with its pain and joy, remembered through sentimental, distant memory.
The orchestra throughout the program performed with spit-polish perfection, punctuated by smart accents well thought-out and executed under Lang-Lessing's baton. About 1,400 people attended at the Majestic Theatre.