From “Essential Reading,” November 19, 2006
The Concert with Kenneth Woods And Bobby Chen Piano
The American conductor Kenneth Woods offers a mature and thoughtful reading of another giant in music, namely Mozart.
Working without baton, Kenneth Woods opened the evening with the Don Giovanni sequences for woodwind ensemble.
Assembled in front of the podium were a selection of musicians from the Surrey Mozart Players, a great little band well led and making good sounds. Without set, costume, wigs or Proscenium, we were propelled into a condensed version of the adventures of the controversial figure Don Giovanni.
Maestro Woods reflected in a few words the significance of the Don and the impact the opera had on Mozart’s life as his wrestled with his political leanings, whilst so dependant on the very society he was questioning to support his wife and a growing family. Woods described a life and professional existence not so unfamiliar to the experience of many working musicians of today.
Moving to the Concerto played on a magnificent Fazioli piano highly recommended by Chen, there was a sublime combination of skills of the conductor Maestro Woods and the Pianist Bobby Chen as the three movements evolved. Kenneth Woods keeping a tight control over the tempo but allowing the pianist to dazzle and the orchestra to shine.
Again, a short explanatory introduction by Kenneth Woods, relaxed and informative, taking us into a world where Mozart lived and breathed and where wonderful artists such as Chen and Woods demonstrate that these works of genius are in safe hands.
As a footnote to the Haydn Symphony No. 99 which was played after the interval …