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8.550293 - MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 21 / Violin Concerto No. 5
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Violin Concerto No.5 in A, K. 219
Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus and the subsequent film based on the play presented an apparent paradox. For dramatic rather than historical purposes Mozart was shown as a thoroughly unworthy vehicle for divine inspiration, as opposed to the jealous old court composer Antonio Salieri, worthy but uninspired. The truth of the matter must be rather different. Mozart had been brought up to mix with a higher level of society and to avoid too much contact
The five violin concertos that Mozart wrote in Salzburg in 1775 might seem to offer a similar paradox, at least when they were performed by the violinist Antonio Brunetti, a man whom Mozart was later to describe as a disgrace to his profession, coarse and dirty. Brunetti, a Neapolitan by birth, had been appointed Hofmusikdirektor and Hofkonzertmeister in Salzburg in 1776 and in the following year he succeeded Mozart as Konzertmeister, when the latter left the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg to seek his fortune in Mannheim and Paris. In 1778 Brunetti had to marry Maria Judith Lipps, the sister-in-law of Michael Haydn, who had already born him a child. Mozart himself was fastidious about the company he kept and he clearly regarded Brunetti as uncouth. Nevertheless the exigencies of his profession found Brunetti providing tolerable performances of the concertos. The first soloist, however, seems to have been Franz Xaver Kolb, a Salzburg musician and a competent enough violinist. We hear in passing of these performances by Kolb and by Brunetti in letters from Leopold Mozart to his son written during the latter's absence in 1777 and 1778, letters that paint a clear enough picture of the kind of music-making there was to be had in Salzburg, and from Mozart's own letters, the.4'astly superior standards of Mannheim, and, given the exaggerations of French taste, of Paris.
By the age of nineteen Mozart encouraged by his father Leopold had become increasingly anxious that a place should be found for him in a more distinguished position than Salzburg could ever offer. His dissatisfaction was to lead to his attempt to find employment in Mannheim or in Paris, and finally, in 1781, to a breach with his patron the Archbishop and to a final decade of precarious independence in Vienna.
Limited as it might have been, Salzburg, all the same, offered some oppor1unities. In 1775 the Archbishop commissioned a setting of a Metastasio libretto, Il re pastore, for the official visit to the town of the Archduke Maximilian Franz in April. The violin concer1os were written later in the year and as we have seen provided at least a reminder of Mozar1's achievement during his long absence.
The Concerto in A Major, K. 219, opens with the customary orchestral exposition, followed unexpectedly by an Adagio entry for the soloist, the first two notes poised perilously over an abyss of orchestral silence, before the murmur of the moving orchestral accompaniment is heard. This is a prelude to the soloist's own version of the Allegro, and subsequent development and recapitulation.
The slow movement allows the solo violin to repeat and complete the opening theme, while the middle section offers a contrast of theme and key. This is followed by a final movement in the speed of a Minuet and in the form of a rondo, one of its contrasting episodes an example of what passed for "Turkish" music in Austria in the late eighteenth century, a fashionable piece of exoticism.
Mozart completed his D Minor Piano Concerto, the first in a minor key, on 10th February, 1785, after his removal to precarious independence ill Vienna. He played it for the first time the following day at the first of a series of subscription concerts that he had arranged at the Mehlgrube, Vienna Neumarkt. Leopold Mozart was in Vienna for the occasion, impressed by the style in which his son was living and the rent he paid, the cheapness of the concert hall and the distinction of the audience. In the same letter home to his daughter Nannerl he describes the new concerto as "very fine”, adding that it was still being copied when he arrived in Vienna, so that Mozart had had no time to play through the final rondo before the performance. Leopold Mozart's pupil Heinrich Marchand was to play the concerto in Salzburg the following year, with Michael Haydn turning the pages for him and able to see for himself the skill with which the work had been written.
The concerto opens in a mood of tragic intensity, the initial rhythm bringing its own sense of urgency. The orchestra introduces much of the matter of the movement, before the entry of the piano with music of characteristic poignancy. Mozart left no written cadenza, a deficiency variously supplied by Beethoven and by Brahms a token of the esteem in which they held the work.
The slow movement, in B flat major, brings with it an air of great serenity, broken temporarily by a sudden burst of sound in G minor and an interlude of tempestuous drama, before calm returns.
The soloist leads into the final rondo, followed by the orchestra. A second theme in F Major leads back once more to the principal theme, and it is this second theme, that after the central development section takes us forward to the somewhat cursory D major conclusion to a composition of considerable dramatic tension.)
Takako Nishizaki won Second Prize in the 1964 Leventritt International Competition (First prize went to Itzhak Perlman), First Prize in the 1967 Juilliard Concerto Competition (with Japan's Nobuko Imai, the well-known viola-player), and several awards in lesser competitions. She was only the second student at Juilliard, after Michael Rabin, to win her school's coveted Fritz Kreisler Scholarship, established by the great violinist himself.
Takako Nishizaki is one of the most frequently recorded violinists in the world today. She has recorded ten volumes of her complete Fritz Kreiler Edition, many contemporary Chinese violin concertos, among them the Concerto by Du Ming-xin, dedicated to her, and a growing number of rare, previously unrecorded violin concertos, among them concertos by Spohr, Bério, Cui, Respighi, Rubinstein and Joachim. For Naxos she has recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mozart's Violin Concertos Nos. 3 and 5, Sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven and the Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Bruch concertos.
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