Mozart in Christian IV’s old church

A Mozart-concert in Holmens church featured the shortest work as its artistic climax

Peter Dürfeld (Kristeligt Dagblad, 16 October, 2018)

4 stars

Holmens church has, with its long history, experienced quite a lot, since Christian IV in September 1619 had it inaugurated as a naval church in Frederik II’s old anchor forge.

On the musical level, in the 21st century, it has – not least thanks to its initiative-rich organist Jakob Lorentzen – received status as one of the capital’s most exciting concert venues, with oratorios of Bach and Händel which draw in large audiences into the old church hall.

Saturday afternoon before the autumn vacation, the occasion was a purely-Mozart program including three works, performed by the ensemble Copenhagen Soloists, conducted by Jonathan Ofir.

The program opened with the exquisite “Sinfonia Concertante” for violin, viola and orchestra, which Mozart composed in the winter of 1779-80 at his home in Salzburg.

The two solo parts were placed in the hands of to delightful musicians from Concerto Copenhagen, violinist Jesenka Balic Zunic and violist Fredrik From, but it cannot be denied, that the work as a whole did not seriously lift – perhaps it was because it is a challenge to perform it on “authentic instruments”, perhaps because there was a missing flow in the heavenly andante and more reckless spirit in the final presto, which was taken in a tempo which sounded more like a comfortable allegro.

The other Mozart grand-work was Symphony number 40, the middle one of the three which Mozart composed in the summer of 1788, and which he probably never got to hear himself. It was well-shouldered by the not- so-large Copenhagen Soloists with concertmaster Hannah Tibell as a fine motivator, carrying the symphony through so well across its four movements, and Jonathan Ofir showed here a fine sense for coherence and tempi, which sounded natural and once again showed, that true musicality rarely disappoints.

Between the two large compositions one could experience the concert’s artistic climax, where Sophie Thing-Simonsen was soloist in the motet “Exultate, jubilate”, composed in Milano in January 1773, when Mozart was only 17-years- old. The captivating youth-work is written in Latin and has a duration of a mere quarter-of-an-hour. But Sophie Thing-Simonsen sang it with a convincing vocal confidence and with an irresistible surplus, and in addition, this early work is perhaps best fit for the small ensemble’s muscle and style of playing. As we heard it on that beautiful autumn afternoon in the heart of Copenhagen, it was a true pearl.