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The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert: Kensho Watanabe leads two Mozart masterworks

Kensho Watanabe
Irina Belashov
Kensho Watanabe leads The Philadelphians in an all-Mozart program on WRTI.

Join us on Sunday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, and Monday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2 when The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert brings you an encore performance from the 2021-22 season.

Kensho Watanabe, who served as The Philadelphia Orchestra’s assistant conductor from 2016 to 2019, leads Mozart's Symphony No. 36 in C major, known as the “Linz” symphony, and his Symphony No. 40 in G minor, with onstage historical commentary from Charlotte Blake Alston, the Orchestra’s resident storyteller and narrator.

In between the two symphonies, you’ll hear musicians of the orchestra in a chamber-music presentation of a movement from a Mozart concerto, with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin as piano soloist.

The two symphonies on this program were composed five years apart. Mozart conceived, composed, and premiered the Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425, known as the “Linz” Symphony, in the space of only five days in November 1783.

The story goes Mozart was passing through the Austrian city of Linz, and was invited to give a concert. Having no suitable music with him, he simply composed a new symphony — one of his grandest and most expansive works.

In 1788, Mozart performed a similar feat by generating his final three symphonies in a period of six weeks. The Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550 is one of only two he wrote in a minor key, and represents one of his most profound and passionate musical statements.

Conductor Kensho Watanabe talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis
Conductor Kensho Watanabe talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about Mozart's "Linz" Symphony.

The American conductor Kensho Watanabe is well known to Philadelphia Orchestra audiences. He was the orchestra’s assistant conductor from 2016 to 2019, and made his subscription concert debut in 2017. This season he is busy making debuts with orchestras internationally, including the London Philharmonic, the Tokyo Philharmonic, and the Turku Philharmonic in Finland. He has also collaborated with the Detroit, Houston, and San Antonio symphony orchestras, among others.

We’ll also bring you some chamber music by Mozart — the first movement of his Piano Concerto No. 12, which can be played as a quintet for piano and strings. Yannick performs with members of the orchestra.


Mozart: Symphony No. 36 in C major, K. 425 (“Linz”)

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major, K. 414: I. Allegro

Mozart: The Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

The Philadelphia Orchestra
Kensho Watanabe, conductor
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, pianist

Listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcasts, every Sunday at 1 p.m. on WRTI 90.1, streaming at WRTI.org, on the WRTI mobile app, and on your favorite smart speaker. Listen again on Mondays at 7 p.m. on WRTI HD-2. Listen for up to two weeks after broadcast onWRTI Replay. 

Melinda has worked in radio for decades, hosting and producing classical music and arts news. An award-winning broadcaster, she has created and hosted classical music programs and reported for NPR, WQXR—New York, WHYY–Philadelphia, and American Public Media. WRTI listeners may remember her years hosting classical music for WFLN and WHYY.
Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.