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8.550872 - MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 6 - 10
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Symphony No.6 in F Major, K. 43
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of the violinist and composer, Leopold Mozart, a musician employed by the ruling Archbishop, and a man of some intellectual ability. In childhood Mozart and his elder sister Anna-Maria, known in the family as Nannerl to her brother's Wolferl, toured Europe as infant prodigies, received at court in the countries they visited and providing a general subject of curiosity and interest. The children's education and musical training was supervised by their father, who was quick to realise his son's genius and sacrificed his own career to foster it.
As Mozart grew to manhood there was evident a disparity between his natural expectations and the realities of provincial Salzburg, where an indulgent patron had been succeeded by an Archbishop very much less willing to allow members of his household to absent themselves for months or years on end. Leopold Mozart had, perforce, to be content with his lot as Vice-Kapellmeister, but in 1777 his son left Salzburg, accompanied only by his mother, to seek employment elsewhere, in Munich, Mannheim or Paris, where, in June, 1778, his mother died. Nowhere did there seem to be a position available in any way equal to what Mozart saw as his desert, and early in 1779 he returned reluctantly to Salzburg, where he was given a position once more, with equal reluctance, by the Archbishop.
The summer of 1780 brought a commission for an opera in Munich. Idomeneo, re di Creta, was staged there with some success in January, 1781. There followed a summons from the Archbishop to attend him in Vienna and an uneasy few months in which the young composer grew increasingly resentful, irked by his subservient position and the refusal of his patron to allow him to earn money and honour by performing before the emperor. In May there was an open quarrel, resulting in Mozart's dismissal. For the remaining ten years of his life he was to seek to earn a living in Vienna, independent of a patron, although he was later to be given a relatively unimportant position at court.
The Vienna years, during which Leopold Mozart was no longer at hand to control his son's wilder plans, brought initial success in the opera-house and in the public concerts Mozart gave. His marriage to an impecunious girl, whose earlier acquaintance he had made in Mannheim, when he had courted her sister, did nothing to assist his career, and by the end of the decade he was often depressed by the financial difficulties of the course he had chosen. He died in 1791, at a time when his fortunes seemed about to take a turn for the better. Although he had been ignored by the new emperor, he had, nevertheless, fulfilled a coronation opera commission in Prague and was enjoying some popular success with his new German opera The Magic Flute. The unfinished work he left included a Requiem Mass, later completed by his pupil Süssmayer.
During the second half of the century the orchestral symphony, derived in part from the Italian operatic overture of earlier years, assumed increasing importance. Its most common instrumentation, calling for pairs of oboes and French horns, with a four-part string section and possible keyboard continuo, suited very well the resources most often available in the musical establishments of ruling families and the nobility. The four-movement symphony, including a Minuet and Trio generally as its third movement, opened with an Allegro in the tripartite sonata or sonata-allegro form of a two-subject exposition, development and recapitulation. A contrasting slow movement in a related key was often in ternary form, a central section framed by a repeated opening section. The symphony might be expected to end in a form of rondo, following the key-pattern expected in sonata-form and offering contrasted episodes framed by a repetition of the principal theme.
Mozart's first attempts at the symphony were made during the fruitful and extended concert-tour undertaken between June 1763 and November 1766. Of these the first were written during the family's stay in London, followed by a further symphony written at The Hague, as the Mozarts made their way gradually home again.
The following year the Mozarts travelled, in September, to Vienna, with the intention, it may be supposed, of taking some part in the celebrations for the wedding of the Archduchess Maria Josepha, who was to marry King Ferdinand of Naples. A month later the princess was dead, having contracted smallpox in an epidemic in Vienna that Leopold Mozart had attempted to avoid by taking refuge at Olmütz, where Wolfgang was found to have caught the disease, from which he made a rapid recovery, as did his sister Nannerl. In January they returned to Vienna, where they remained for a year. It seems that Mozart's F major Symphony, K. 43, was written during the autumn in Viennd or during the weeks spent in Moravia. It is scored for a pair of oboes, replaced by flutes in the slow movement, two horns and a five-part string orchestra calling for two violas, in addition to first and second violin, cello and double bass, the last frequently doubled by the bassoon in contemporary performance. The first movement opens with a subject based on the notes of the triad, a sufficient call to the listener's attention. The second subject is introduced by the strings in an exposition which is then repeated, before the central development based on the first subject and a recapitulation that includes the second subject now in the tonic key. The C major Andante makes use of a duet, Natus cadit, atque Deus, taken from the Latin Intermedium Apollo et Hyacinthus written in the spring of 1767 in Salzburg. It is followed by a Minuet, with a contrasting B flat major Trio for strings alone, and a last movement in the form used for the opening movement of the symphony.
The Symphony in D major, K. 45, carries the date 16th January 1768 and was written in Vienna, later to be used, in part, for the overture to Mozart's opera La finta semplice, undertaken at the suggestion of the emperor, but not performed, owing to various intrigues in Vienna, as Leopold Mozart explained in a letter to his Salzburg landlord Lorenz Hagenauer. The symphony is scored for pairs of oboes and horns, a four-part string section and trumpets and drums. Its three opening chords are followed by a softer but lively string figure and it is the strings that introduce the second subject. The exposition is not repeated and there is a brief central section before the recapitulation and re-establishment of the original key. The G major Andante is entrusted to the strings alone, but the Minuet calls for the full orchestra, framing a G major Trio for strings alone. The symphony ends with a rapid final movement that is dominated by the contrasted rhythmic figures of its principal theme.
The autograph of Mozart's Symphony in D major, K. 48, is dated 13th December 1768. The long stay in Vienna had brought some disappointment. La finta semplice had not been performed and the Archbishop of Salzburg had continued to express his impatience at the extended absence of his Deputy Kapellmeister, whose salary had now been withheld. The family returned to Salzburg in January. The symphony again makes use of trumpets and drums, in addition to the usual instrumentation. The principal subject and the closing theme of the repeated exposition re-appear after the central development. There is a G major slow movement for strings only, its two sections repeated, before the D major Minuet with its G major Trio, the first scored for the full orchestra and the Trio excluding trumpets and drums. There is a lively finale, dominated by its principal theme.
Mozart wrote his C major Symphony, K. 73, either in Salzburg in 1769 or in the earlier months of 1770. In December 1769 he had setout, with his father, for his first journey to Italy, where they spent fifteen months. It is scored for a pair of oboes, replaced by flutes in the slow movement, pairs of horns, trumpets and drums, with the usual four-part string section. There is a tripartite first movement, followed by an F major slow movement of great charm for flutes and strings. The strings alone provide the Trio framed by the full orchestra Minuet. The last movement is in the more usual rondo form, its principal theme re-appearing to frame contrasting episodes.
By the last week of January 1770 Mozart and his father were in Milan, where they remained until the middle of March, leaving with a commission for Mozart to provide an opera for the following Christmas. It is possible that, as a manuscript note on the autograph of the Symphony in G major, K. 74, suggests, this work may have been intended as a possible overture to the opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto. It is, in any case, in the Italian three-movement form and is scored for oboes, horns and strings. The first movement offers two contrasting subjects, with a brief transition where the oboes enjoy prominence before the recapitulation. The Andante follows without a break, an interlude that has the air of a stately minuet. The principal theme of the final rondo is given first to the violins alone. It serves to frame contrasting episodes, including, as might be expected, an excursion into the tonic minor key.
Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester
Concerts take the orchestra throughout the North of England and it has received four major European bursaries for its achievements in the community. With a series of recordings for of Haydn and Mozart symphonies Naxos the orchestra makes its debut on disc.
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