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There are "moments of sheer terror" for harpist Marshall McGuire as he performs with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, but for us... sheer bliss

If you're looking to overdose on loveliness, the combination of Mozart, a harp, a flute and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra might be the most potent cocktail on the menu right now.

Listening in a sound-induced trance to the immensely popular Jupiter symphony (Mozart's last) or the overture to his rarely-performed opera Lucio Silla, it would be easy to ignore the strange history of the other piece in this month's ABO concert.

The headline concerto is the only work Mozart wrote for the harp, and apparently it wasn't as a labour of love: during Wolfgang's stint in Paris in 1778, the duc de Guînes, an overfed diplomat, commissioned the work for himself and his daughter to play. "Mozart wanted the money and the Duke wanted a piece from a hot young composer," says harpist Marshall McGuire. But this being Mozart, the result is of course adorable, particularly the familiar Andantino second movement. "The flute has a gorgeous part," he says, rating his harp part as moderately difficult, with "moments of sheer terror" for the soloist.

McGuire will be playing a recent recreation of a single-action harp of the period, a "step back in the technology" from the now standard double action to the simpler kind of instrument that the piece was written for. He describes this replica as "tiny, exquisite and completely ridiculously decorated. And it provides exactly the sound that Mozart would have known."

McGuire, who programmes and plays repertoire from Baroque to contemporary, loves his gigs with the ABO because of the "sheer quality of the sound from the period instruments." The oboes and horns sound completely different, for example: "There's a great sense of exploration," he says. Perhaps that's something similar to what Mozart felt when he wrote his first and only concerto for two different instruments, both of which were changing into the form that we are now accustomed to.

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By Jason Catlett   |  

Mozart's Jupiter details

Elizabeth Murdoch Hall
31 Sturt St, Southbank 3006

Telephone 03 9699 3333

Nearby Stations: Flinders St

Price $46.00 to $146.00

Date 13 Sep 2014-14 Sep 2014

Open Sat 7pm; Sun 5pm

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