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Mozart Marathon to bring day of marvelous music to Athenaeum Saturday, Jan. 24

Victoria Martino and James Lent will perform a marathon of Mozart sonatas to celebrate the composer’s 259th birthday.
Victoria Martino and James Lent will perform a marathon of Mozart sonatas to celebrate the composer’s 259th birthday.
/ Lonnie Hewitt

Many concert violinists are content to stick with a repertoire of a dozen pieces they play at public performances. Not Victoria Martino.

This accomplished violinist, who divides her time between La Jolla, La Mesa, Los Angeles and New York City, estimates her repertoire at well over 350 pieces by more than 60 composers.

Her favorite of them all is Mozart, and on Saturday, Jan. 24, she and Los Angeles-based pianist James Lent will offer their second Mozart Marathon at La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, a celebration of Mozart’s 259th birthday and the duo’s 10th year of collaborative performance. It’s a day-long display of musicality and stamina that will feature the 32 violin and piano sonatas written by Mozart in the years between his precocious childhood and his untimely death.

Their first Mozart Marathon was in 2006, in honor of the composer’s 250th birthday. That year, they played what they considered the complete violin and piano sonatas, but this year, as they began rehearsing, they made a whole new discovery.

“James is on the music faculty at UCLA, so he went to the library there and checked out a bunch of scores for us to work from,” Martino said. “When we opened the books and started playing, we found six sonatas that were totally unfamiliar to us. We did some research, and decided they were bona fide piano and violin sonatas, written when Mozart was about 8 years old. They’re very experimental, they really show what a wunderkind he was, and we felt we had to include them. So this time, we’ll be playing 32 sonatas instead of the 26 we played in 2006. You could call it a Mozart Mega-Marathon!”

The day will begin with the “Baby Sonatas” and go all the way through to the mature works, giving the audience a chance to hear the entire trajectory of Mozart’s development as a composer. Martino and Lent take no breaks other than an occasional sip of water between sonatas. “We’re in a transcendent state, sustained by the music,” she said.

Unlike the performers, you’re not required to stay the whole course, which has no intermissions. Come and go as you like; take a lunch or coffee break. You’ll still have plenty of time to admire the breadth of Mozart’s genius and this daring duo’s heartfelt tribute to him.

MARTINO & LENT & THE MOZART CONNECTION

“Mozart is the reason I became a musician,” Victoria Martino said. ‘I started, as he did, with the piano, and then, for my seventh or eighth birthday, my dad bought me a recording of the complete violin sonatas, and I just went berserk over them. I said I’ve got to learn to play the violin! And I started making his birthday a holiday; I’d take off from school, and spend the whole day playing records of his music.

I feel that James Lent is almost a reincarnation of Mozart, in terms of his creativity, musicality, intelligence, talent and stamina. I can’t think of anyone else who could do this kind of marathon. And he was born on Jan. 26, in Houston, which would be Jan. 27 in Salzburg — Mozart’s birthplace. They were actually born on the same day!”