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8.550873 - MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 11 - 14
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Symphony No.11 in D Major, K. 84
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, followed by a 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. Late in 1769 Mozart left Salzburg with his father to visit Italy for the first time, and there he enjoyed similar success, now being able to fulfil a commission for an opera, Mitridate, rè di Ponto, which was performed in Milan on Boxing Day, 1770. He completed his Symphony in D major, K.84, in July 1770, and refers to the work in a postscript to one of his father's letters home on 4th August from Bologna. The symphony seems to have been written in Milan and Bologna, to the latter of which the Mozarts travelled after visiting Naples and Rome. It is one of a group of three-movement works on the Italian pattern. Scored for pairs of oboes and French horns, with strings, the first movement starts with a lively first subject, leading to a gentler second subject entrusted at first to the strings. The A major triple-time Andante opens with a theme for the strings, then joined, in repetition, by the wind instruments, material that frames a central section in the dominant key. The final Allegro starts with an arpeggio figure in a movement where triplet figuration later comes to predominate.
The Mozarts returned to Salzburg in March 1771 and here in July the young composer completed the Symphony in G major, K.110. In four movements, it is scored for the usual pairs of oboes and horns, with the strings joined by flutes and bassoons in the slow movement. In the opening triple-time Allegro the oboe doubles the violin in the first subject. After a second subject the material is developed, at first by the strings, before the final recapitulation. The C major Andante allows the strings the first statement of the principal theme, joined by sustained notes from flutes and bassoons. Oboes and French horns return for the third movement Menuetto with its contrasting E minor Trio for strings only. The final rondo bases its principal and recurrent theme on the notes of the arpeggio.
After five months in Salzburg, Mozart, accompanied by his father, returned again to Italy, where his Serenata, Ascanio in Alba, was to be performed in October for the wedding of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and Maria Beatrice d'Este, a princess of Modena. His Symphony in F major, K.112, was completed in Milan on 2nd November 1771. It is scored for pairs of oboes and French horns, with strings. The first movement has a principal theme derived from the descending notes of the arpeggio, gently answered. Less usually the second subject is introduced by oboes and violas, answered by the violins. There is the brief expected central development and recapitulation. The B flat major Andante allows the first violin the principal theme, accompanied by broken chords from the second violins and violas. The Menuetto frames a C major Trio for strings and the symphony ends with a rondo.
In the middle of December 1771 father and son returned to Salzburg, where, on 30th December, Mozart completed his Symphony in A major, K.114. This is scored for pairs of flutes, alternating with oboes, and French horns, with strings, which start the first subject of the opening Allegro moderato, continued with the whole orchestra, the flute an octave higher than the violins. The strings begin the second subject and the exposition has a dramatic closing section, before the development, where the flutes, in thirds, are answered by the violas. The movement ends with a recapitulation. Oboes replace flutes in the D major triple-time Andante, which is followed by a Minuet, framing an A minor Trio for strings alone. The final Molto allegro is in tripartite sonata-form, with a brief central development.
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 of Haydn and Mozart symphonies for Naxos the orchestra makes its debut on disc.
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