London Mozart Players

Review – London Mozart Players celebrate 75 years


The London Mozart Players celebrated their 75th birthday on Saturday night at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, with a night of Mozart conducted by Jonathan Bloxham. Joining them on stage were pianists Imogen Cooper and Martin James-Bartlett. Our compere (complete with natty clipboard) the ever reliable presenter Petroc Trelawny.  

The seventy-five-year-old chamber orchestra doesn’t shy away from its trials and tribulations in the concert brochure. It’s former executive director Julia Debruslais tells the story of how the group came back from the brink ten years ago. The story is prescient. Live concerts shouldn’t be taken for granted. Nor the considerable educational work the group has committed to over the years in and around Croydon. 

Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes

The Ligeti spoke volumes. I’ve seen this pop up on programmes a lot over the past year. The 100-metronome ensemble ‘piece’ is quirky enough without being too off-putting, illustrating the point that a regular beat isn’t quite so guaranteed as you might think it is. LMP pimped Ligeti’s score by making it a performance given by 30 Croydon residents all who stood up in the auditorium, metronomes in hand. The sound of ever-so-slightly out of sync metronomes echoed all around. Haunting, cheeky, subversive and real. I’ve no idea how long it went for. It doesn’t matter. What matters more is how attention was focused. 100 local faces appeared on the screen in front of us, captured by 30 local photographers. LMP proving once again that they’re of the community and that they have the power to bring the community together. Relevance demonstrated in a few short minutes. Worthy, surely, of Arts Council funding.  

The rest of the programme – it really can’t be overstated – was long. A recreation from Mozart’s day, the first half extended to an hour and a half. The interval was reduced to 15 minutes. The service at the mezzanine bar needing a bit of drive, it has to be said.  

Mozart Piano Concertos No. 5 & 13

Nonetheless, the playing was energetic and sharp throughout. Soprano Anna Prohaska suffered a little from being set back into the orchestra – the stage arrangement a reflection of how the concert was recorded for broadcast. Imogen Cooper’s rendition of Mozart Piano Concerto No. 13 was precise, thorough, sometimes romantic. Martin James Bartlett’s performance of Concerto No. 5 in comparison had more clarity, as though he was the whippersnapper keeping all of us in check.  

In truth, I could have done without the Mozart Serenade No. 9 in the first half. But, this was LMP back on form, in their natural home celebrating a landmark birthday with their infectious determination and drive.  

More please.  

More about the London Mozart Players

Who are the London Mozart Players?

Established in 1949 by British violinist Harry Blech, the London Mozart Players (LMP) is the name given to one of the longest-running chamber orchestras in the UK. They are characterised by their enthusiasm, and willingness to communicate with the audience. There is a relaxed feel to their concerts and they are successful in attracting a diverse audience.

Musicians standing on a flat roof with modern buildings in the background, some of them holding musical instruments

What sort of music does the London Mozart Players play?

London Mozart Players is renowned for their performances of music by classical composers such as Mozart and Haydn, but their concert programmes also include music written by composers ranging from the Baroque to contemporary music. By and large, they can be relied upon to play music people will want to hear.

What is the London Mozart Players famous for?

In 1988 the London Mozart Players appointed the first-ever woman artistic director Jane Glover, who programmed and conducted concerts. The London Mozart Players also featured in the first week of concerts at the new Royal Festival Hall in London when it opened in 1951. The group embarked on international tours in 1956 to Amsterdam, Sicily, Italy, and East Germany, before performing at the newly opened Fairfield Halls in Croydon in 1961. The orchestra took up residency in Fairfield Halls, Croydon in 1994 and remains resident orchestra to this day. LMP is known for its community engagement work in and around Croydon, and its digital content production work (especially during the COVID pandemic. Of particular note is how players saved the orchestra from financial ruin in 2014.

Who has the London Mozart Players performed with?

Sir James Galway, Dame Felicity Lott, Jane Glover, Howard Shelley, Nicola Benedetti, John Suchet and Simon Callow, John Lill, Murray Perahia, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Tamás Vásáry, Andras Schiff, Dimitri Alexeev, and Igor Stravinsky. They also performed with cellist Jacqueline du Pre when she was still a student at the Guildhall School of Music in London, in 1962. In recent years, they’ve collaborated with Nicola Benedetti, Michael Collins, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

What are some recommended recordings made by London Mozart Players to get started with?

There are many recordings featuring the London Mozart Players. If you’re looking for a starting point, then be sure to check out pianist Howard Shelley’s recordings of Mozart Piano Concertos released in 1995, including the slow movement from No. 21, also known as ‘Elvira Madigan’ because of the music’s use in the film of the same name. There are some early recordings from the late 1950s directed by LMP’s founder Harry Blech, including the Haydn’s ‘London’ symphony,