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Fullana’s Fire, Harada’s Charm Light Up Knight Theater

Feb 19, 2024

Lawrence Toppman, WDAV -- 

How does the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra find these whizbangs?

Almost all the youngish music director candidates of the last two years impressed me, and the trend has continued since the naming of Kwamé Ryan. The latest guest conductor, Savannah Philharmonic music director Keitaro Harada, sailed into Knight Theater one week short of his 39th birthday and lit up the podium.

Last things first. Any review of Saturday's concert should begin with Mozart's Symphony No. 41. For once, it earned its nickname of "Jupiter," applied in 1788 because of musical thunderbolts.

From the muscular opening movement to the elegant yet exhilarating finale, this rendition blew away preconceptions of Mozart as an academic or unemotional composer. This was proto-Beethoven, perhaps an inspiration for the 18-year-old German who was yet to write a symphony. (Interesting to think that, had Mozart reached 72 -- not unimaginable, as Haydn died at 77 -- he'd have outlived Beethoven. How might they have influenced each other?)

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