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8.550060 - MOZART: Serenade No. 10, 'Gran Partita'
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756.1791)
The early career of Mozart as an infant prodigy had taken him to the leading cities of Europe and accustomed him to the admiration of the great, the famous and those who were simply curious. Leopold Mozart, who was to become and to remain Vice-Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg, sacrificed his own career and ambitions to the genius of his son, teaching him and then arranging his career for him, hoping always for some material recognition for what seemed to him a miraculous gift of God.
In the event material ambitions remained largely unrealised. In adolescence Mozart found himself tied to the Salzburg court, and his excursion to Paris in 1777 and 1778, unaccompanied by his father, provided nothing to his advantage, while bringing him into contact with the Weber family, a connection that was to prove distinctly disadvantageous when he was, in 1782, inveigled into marriage with Konstanze Weber, after being jilted by her elder sister.
It was in 1781 that Mozart broke his ties with Salzburg and, to some extent, with his father. During the course of a visit to Vienna, as a member of the household of the Archbishop of Salzburg, Count Hieronymus von Colloredo, he quarrelled with his patron and secured his immediate dismissal. There was now no question of returning to Salzburg and to his father. Lured, perhaps, by the initial enthusiasm of the musical public in Vienna, he stayed there, winning early success in the opera-house and with a series of piano concertos. His fortunes were to take a turn for the worse towards the end of the decade, but seemed to recover with the popular success of The Magic Flute, which was running at the time of his sudden death in 1791.
The Serenade in B Flat, K. 361, known sometimes as the Gran Partita from a later, misspelt addition to the title-page of the autograph, seems to have been written in 1783 and 1784, rather than in 1781, as Alfred Einstein supposed. The first reference to the Serenade occurs in accounts of a concert given by the clarinettist Anton Stadler on 23rd March 1784. Johann Friedrich Schink, who was present, has unreserved praise for the playing of Stadler and for Mozart’s composition, listing the thirteen instruments involved, but mentioning only four movements. There is no doubt that Schink is referring to the B flat Serenade, and we may presume that only four of the movements were played at Stadler’s concert.
The Serenade is scored for two oboes, two clarinets, two basset-horns, four horns, two bassoons and double-bass and is in eight movements. The first of these opens with an imposing introduction, leading to an Allegro, with constant variations in the grouping instruments, among which the clarinets are usually prominent.
The first Minuet has a first Trio scored for clarinets and basset-horns, and a second using the whole ensemble, with a lively part for the first bassoon. There follows an Adagio in which the poignant melody is shared by the instruments, the first oboe phrase capped by the clarinet and followed by the basset-horn.
The second Minuet has a first Trio in B flat minor and a second in F. It is followed by a Romance, its opening Adagio proceeding to an Allegretto basset-horn duet. The Theme and Variations that make up the seventh movement allow the first clarinet to announce the theme. The first variation, a triplet version of the theme, is followed by a second in which basset-horn and bassoon at first combine. In the third variation the two clarinets illustrate the two registers of the instrument, the flute-like upper notes and lower, chalumeau register, used in accompaniment, as it is in the Trio of the E flat Symphony of 1788. The fourth variation is in B flat minor, the fifth an Adagio and the sixth a lively conclusion. The last movement, a cheerful rondo, has all the brilliance of an operatic finale, in which the soloists still have their own characteristic comments to make.
German Wind Soloists
The German Wind Soloists is an ensemble formed by some of the most distinguished wind-players in Germany, all of whom have played with the best known orchestras in the country, the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and others, while also serving as professors at major conservatories, including those of Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne and Hanover. The repertoire of the ensemble has at its heart the Harmoniemusik wind music for octet, of the classical period, while also including later works from the composers of the 19th century such as Lachner and Reinecke, and of Brahms, Dvorák and Richard Strauss. The German Wind Soloists have achieved considerable success in many concert appearances and in the recording studio.
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