In the midst of our city’s 100th anniversary, the Las Vegas Philharmonic is celebrating a much older one: the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  A veritable feast of the great composer’s works will be performed by the Phil at their February 25, 2006 concert, but tonight we were treated to a Mozart “snack” at a Cartier Connoisseur Soirée.

German-born pianist Andreas Klein.

Internationally famous pianist Andreas Klein, according to the New York Times, displays “the four T’s of pianism” — temperament, taste, touch, and tone."  Their music critic is obviously quite sophisticated.  Andreas thrilled the audience in the lovely home of our hosts, Dr. David and Laura Mulkey.  Combine a great musician and some Mozart scores, and you’re bound to have a wonderful evening.  As for the newspaper’s description, I’m still trying to get my mind around the term “pianism.”  Is that even a real word?


Mozart was a child prodigy, and in some ways he remained a big kid until his death at age 35.  Andreas began the program with a delightful set of variations on “Ah!  Vous dirai-je, Maman,” the French version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”  One wonders what such a song would sound like sung to a child in Mozart’s native German language  — frightening, probably.  The left-hand part anchors the tune with the familiar “Twinkle Twinkle” chord progression.  The right-hand part sticks closely to the well-known melody in some variations, while in others it nearly becomes an Eddie Van Halen solo.  (Let’s see the Times top that description.)

The second selection allowed both hands to roam.  “A fantasy,” said Andreas, describing the relatively unstructured piece of music, “allows you (the composer) to do whatever you want.”  The “Fantasy in C Minor” is an elegant, flowing piece that reminds Andreas of Beethoven’s early style.  Of course, doing whatever you want seems to have been Mozart’s philosophy of everything.  I was surprised, therefore, that this lovely piece sounded less “Mozartian” than the others.  It must be that very structure that made most of his melodies so toe-tappingly memorable.  (Mozartian is too real of a word!)

Left to right: Las Vegas Philharmonic
conductor Hal Weller, Laura Taylor Mulkey, Andreas Klein, and Dr. David Mulkey.

The Soirées are fund-raising events for the Las Vegas Philharmonic.   The intimate concerts are hosted by local music lovers, and — okay, I never asked Dr. Mulkey if he is a music lover, but he’d better be: his wife is jazz singer/pianist Laura Taylor.  She came from New York for a long engagement  at the Desert Inn and became a resident.  She still performs in Las Vegas and currently has a CD of Chet Baker favorites in production.  And you thought our city was only about Mozart and slot machines.

The composer wrote his “Sonata in A Minor” soon after the death of his beloved mother.  “As a young man Mozart had already experienced many things we experience as adults, and he was able to express that,” Andreas explained of this evocative music.  The allegro movement seemed to depict the joyous memory of the living woman before turning sad, as if wearing a brave smile at the funeral.  The andante had the same flow as the Fantasy, only more somber and more structured in meter.  Finally, the presto was quick and light but still tinted by its minor key.

Andreas completed the program on a happier note with the “Sonata in B Flat Major,” telling us that “There is not much virtuosity in the first two movements.”  However, since there often are not many notes in Mozart’s music, “every note counts.”  The music, espeClick for Vegas Events and Concertscially the opening allegro movement, seemed to contain a lot of notes, streaming at us in rapid runs and trills.  Andreas was right, though: there were many pauses that seemed just as important to the character of the music.  As for virtuosity, some passages were very simple, like a young student’s piece, but also very beautiful – a result of that classic structure backing Mozart’s enchanting melodies.

Visit Webbandstand.comMore of these melodies will be played by the Philharmonic on February 25, and Laura will perform the next afternoon at the Whitney Library Concert Hall.  If you’re in town, spend some of your winnings on a ticket.  In 250 years, no one will remember how you did at the slot machines.

Editor's Notebook: Europe is celebrating Mozart's 250th birthday with festivals continent-wide. Click these links for details:)

Germany - In Mozart's Footsteps

Music Lovers - Enjoy Mozart On Wheels With Headwater!

Mozart's 250th Birthday in Austria

Mainly Mozart in San Diego

Celebrate Mozart’s Birthday in Salzburg And Danube Cruise


By Robert LaGrone, Las Vegas Jetsetters Magazine Entertainment Editor.

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