|About this Recording
8.550413 - MOZART: Serenades K. 185 and K. 203
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of a court musician who, in the year of his youngest child's birth, published an influential book on violin-playing. Leopold Mozart rose to occupy the position of Vice-Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg, but sacrificed his own creative career to that of his son, in whom he detected early signs of precocious genius. With the indulgence of his patron, he was able to undertake extended concert tours of Europe in which his son and his eider sister Nannerl were able to astonish audiences. The boy played both the keyboard and the violin and could improvise and soon write down his own compositions.
Childhood that had brought signal success was followed by a less satisfactory period of adolescence largely in Salzburg, under the patronage of a new and less sympathetic Archbishop. Mozart, like his father, found opportunities far too limited at home, while chances of travel were now restricted. In 1777, when leave of absence was not granted, he gave up employment in Salzburgto seek a future elsewhere, but neither Mannheim nor Paris, both musical centres of some importance, had anything for him. His Mannheim connections, however, brought a commission for an opera in Munich in 1781, and after its successful staging he was summoned by his patron to Vienna. There Mozart's dissatisfaction with his position resulted in a quarrel with the Archbishop and dismissal from his service.
The last ten years of Mozart's life were spent in Vienna in precarious independence of both patron and immediate paternal advice, a situation aggravated by an imprudent marriage. Initial success in the opera-house and as a performer was followed, as the decade went on, by increasing financial difficulties. By the time of his death in December 1791, however, his fortunes seemed about to change for the better, with the success of the German opera The Magic Flute, and the possibility of increased patronage.
The serenade in the later eighteenth century was an essentially occasional composition, designed for evening entertainment or celebration. These works were generally in a number of movements and proved particularly popular in Salzburg, where Leopold Mozart himself had contributed notably and prolifically to the genre. A serenade would normally open and close with a march and include a sonata-form movement, two slow movements and two or three minuets. Originally intended for outdoor performance and therefore entrusted principally to wind instruments, the form came to include indoor chamber or orchestral music of a similar character.
It is generally thought that the Serenade in D major, K. 185, was written in July and early August 1773 as Finalmusik for the end of the academic year in Salzburg, where Judas Thaddäus von Andretter, son of the Salzburg War Councillor, was completing his year in Logic at the Benedictine University. It was the custom to mark these occasions by open-air concerts in the Mirabeilplatz, in front of the summer residence of the ruling Prince-Archbishop, repeated in the Kollegienplatz for the benefit of the professors. Mozart completed the work during a visit that summer to Vienna, where, accompanied only by his father, he hoped to find a position at court. The stay in Vienna brought renewed acquaintance with the Mesmers, for whom Mozart had written his Singspiel Bastien und Bastienne five years before.
The Finalmusik opens with a March scored for pairs of flutes, horns and trumpets and a string section without violas. This is followed by the first movement of the Serenade, an Allegro, in which the oboes are replaced by flutes and violas now appear in the score. The movement, according to custom, is in sonata-form, its two themes developed in the central section, before their re-appearance in the final section. The succeeding F major slow movement, marked Andante and scored without flutes or trumpets, makes use of a solo violin, which also has apart to play in the following F major Allegro.
The original key returns, with flutes and trumpets, for the first Minuet, which has a G major Trio scored only for flute, violas and bass, and this leads to a further slow movement, in the key of A major. The second Minuet is bravely introduced, the strings joined now by oboes, horns and trumpets, with a first Trio in the key of D minor and scored for solo violin accompanied only by violins and viola and a second Trio that restores both the key and the full sonority of the orchestra. An Adagio, with a running second violin part, leads to a concluding Allegro, introduced by the strings, after which the March is repeated, as the musicians take their leave.
The Serenade in D major, K. 203, was probably written in Salzburg in the summer of 1774, for an occasion that has not been recorded, although it has been suggested that it was intended for the name-day of the Archbishop on 30th September and was, therefore, completed unusually early for such an event. The opening March is scored for pairs of oboes, bassoons, horns and trumpets, and a string section without violas. The Serenade, now with first and second viola, starts with the usual sonata-form movement, to which there is a slower introduction. The first of the slow movements follows, in the key of B fiat major and scored with a solo violin. The first Minuet in F major, is played by the strings alone, with a solo violin playing a concertante part in the accompanying B fiat major Trio. Oboes and horns return for the ensuing Allegro, which allows the solo violin interesting patterns of cross rhythm with the rest of the string section. The second Minuet replaces oboes with flutes and has a companion Trio in A major scored for solo flute, solo bassoon and strings. Muted strings open the Andante, the melody of the first violin now I accompanied by a busy repeated figure from the second violins. There is now a third Minuet of strong outline, coupled with a D minor Trio for solo oboe and strings. This is capped by a brilliant and rapid final movement, after which the J opening March is repeated.
Salzburg Chamber Orchestra
Harald Nerat has been a member of the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg since 1979 and in 1986 instituted the Salzburg Mozart Serenades with over 80 concerts each year.
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