“Mozart in the Jungle” takes flight in its second symphony

Mozart in the Jungle was not a great show in its first season – it never truly exploited its premise of the (fictional) New York Symphony Orchestra, and seemed listless even with the madcap energy of its protagonist, conductor Rodrigo de Souza (Gael García Bernal). The first season was handicapped by its structure, as it introduced prodigy oboist Hailey (Lola Kirke) and had to labour to track her progress (and her relationship with Rodrigo) to  her eventual place in a concert performance by the first season finale.

With Hailey’s place in the New York Symphony firmly established, Mozart in the Jungle takes flight in its second season. It has moved beyond being just the Rodrigo show, even though the enigmatic conductor remains just as irrepressible as ever. As with the first season, the highlight of the second season is a standalone plot arc that takes Rodrigo and Hailey on a journey around the Mexican countryside (as compared to a party in the first season.)

At its most whimsical, Mozart in the Jungle is a show that skips rather than strides. Yet, even as it meanders, the show crackles with energy. It may be a soaring overhead shot of a orchestra in performance, or a Lang Lang guest appearance that culminates in a two-minute scene of him playing the piano, or it may just be a sudden high-speed chase in the streets of Mexico City; this show portrays a world where people are driven to perform to a higher, artistic ideal, and its music is just the first reason why you should be interested in it.

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