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8.550264 - MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 36, 33 and 27
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of a court musician, Leopold Mozart, author in the same year of an important book on violin-playing and later Vice-Kapellmeister to the ruling Archbishop of Salzburg, in whose service he spent his entire career. Leopold Mozart was quick to perceive the exceptional musical gifts of his son and saw it as his God-given duty to devote himself to fostering them, providing him with sound musical training and a good general education.
Mozart spent much of his childhood travelling to the major musical centres of Europe, where he amazed those who heard him by his musical precocity, performing at the keyboard with his eider sister, Nannerl, the only other surviving child of his father's marriage. Journeys to Italy involved commissions for opera, but the death of the old Archbishop and succession of a much less sympathetic prelate in 1772 cur1ailed travel, while adolescence in Salzburg brought its own dissatisfactions. Mozart thought he deserved something better, an opinion in which his father heartily concurred.
In an effort to find a more congenial position, Mozart left Salzburg in 1777, spending time at Mannheim where he made friends with some of the musicians employed in w hat was then one of the most famous orchestras in Europe, and moving thereafter to the original goal of his journey, Paris. France, however, proved disappointing, and by the beginning of 1779 he was back again in Salzburg, reinstated in the service of the Archbishop, but chafing under the restrictions of his position and the lack of wider opportunity.
In the later months of 1780 Mozart was permitted to travel to Munich for the preparation of a new opera, Idomeneo, commissioned through his Mannheim friends by the Elector of Bavaria, who now held court there. From Munich, after successful performances of the opera in January 1781, Mozart was summoned by his patron to Vienna, where his position in the household of the Archbishop seemed to deny him the manifold opportunities of a brilliant career that Vienna appeared to otter. A quarrel with his patron resulted in ignominious dismissal and a final career of ten years in Vienna which brought initial success. Mozart established himself as a composer of opera, at first for the new German opera and then for the Italian opera to which the Emperor had been compelled to return, with Le nozze di Figaro in 1786 and Don Giovanni in 1787, the year of his father's death. He organised subscription concerts, at many of which he appeared as soloist in new piano concertos of his composition, and attracted many pupils. His marriage in 1782 to an impecunlous cousin of the future composer Carl Maria von Weber brought its own problems and he was frequently in financial difficulty in his last years, although there was a sign of change of fortune in the great popularity of his last German opera, Die Zauberflöte, which was playing in a suburban theatre at the time of his sudden death on 5th December 1791.
Symphony No.36 in C major, K. 425, was written in the space of a few days at the castle in Linz of Count Johann Joseph Anton von Thun-Hohenstein at the end of October and beginning of November 1783. Mozart and his wife Konstanze had spent three months in Salzburg, their first visit since their marriage and the latter's introduction to her father-in-law. On the way back to Vienna at the end of October they took advantage of the hospitability of Count Thun, who showed them great kindness. Having no symphony with him, Mozart w rote a new work, which was performed on 4th November. Further recorded performances during the composer's lifetime took place in Vienna and in Salzburg the following year and in Prague in 1787, when he and his wife stayed with the Count in that city.
The so-called Linz Symphony is scored for pairs of oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, with strings, and opens with a slow introduction, followed by an Allegro into which the strings lead the way. The slow movement, in which the trumpets and drums still have apart to play, is in a gently lilting rhythm, the mood broken by a bold Minuet and a contrasting Trio, with solo oboe and bassoon against a subdued string accompaniment. A brief concluding figure, in the first part of the final movement serves its turn in the central development section and the symphony ends in a suitably festive and cheerful mood, a reflection of Thun's hospitability.
Mozart completed his B flat major Symphony, K. 319, in Salzburg on 9th July 1779. It was the second symphony to be written after the composer's return from Mannheim and Paris. The work, suitable for a smaller orchestra than Salzburg boasted and therefore practicable in Donaueschingen, where Mozart despatched a copy in 1786 at the request of Sebastian Winter, once the Mozart family servant, is scored for pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns, while the string section calls for two violas. It is traditionally supposed that the symphony was originally in three movements and that a Minuet and Trio were added for performance in Vienna. The music shows Mozart's powers of invention and subtlety in the use of the available instrumental resources. After an opening Allegro in triple metre there is an E flat slow movement in which the strings have initial prominence. This is followed by a delightful Trio, by way of contrast and a finale of opening dynamic contrast.
Symphony No.27 in G major, K.199, a much slighter work, was completed in Salzburg in early April 1773, shortly after Mozart's return from Milan, where he had directed performances of his opera Lucio Silla. It is the second of five written in the same year. Scored for two flutes instead of oboes, two horns and strings, the three-movement symphony, largely reflecting Italian practice, opens with the expected bright Allegro, with the customary contrasted second lyrical theme. Muted violins, with plucked viola, cello and double bass accompaniment, usher in the contrapuntal use of the opening first violin figure and its melodic second violin accompaniment.
In 1987 while retaining his connection with both Royal Ballet companies as guest conductor, Barry Wordsworth also worked with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Ulster Orchestra, the BBC Concert and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. He has also continued to work with New Sadlers Wells Opera, with whom he has recorded excerpts from Kalman's Countess Maritza and Lehar’s The Count of Luxembourg and The Merry Widow. For the Naxos label Wordsworth recorded a number of Mozart and Haydn symphonies, works by Smetana and Dvorak and for the Marco Polo label works by Bax.
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