About this Recording

A Musical Tour of Northern Italy and Sicily
With music by Mozart



Mantua: Palazzo del Te: Frescoes by Giulio Romano • Views of the City
Palazzo Ducale: Frescoes by Andrea Mantegna

The Palazzo del Te was built under Federico II Gonzaga between 1524 and 1534 on the site of stables near the Isola del Te. The Gonzagas had come to power in Mantua in 1328 and the city remained a centre of culture and artistic patronage, particularly in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Its prosperity came to an end in 1630, when it was sacked by the armies of the German Emperor. By the time of Mozart it had become part of the Hapsburg Empire, ruled from Vienna. The Gonzaga palaces suffered under the vicissitudes of war, and something of their former magnificence has been restored in more recent times. The Palazzo del Te was built by Giulio Romano, with the many remarkable frescoes, largely by Rinaldo Mantovao and Benedetto Pagni, now restored. The various rooms of the Palazzo include the Camera dei Cavalli, with its paintings of the horses for which the rulers of Mantua were famous, the Camera di Psiche, with its illustrations of the legend of Psyche, the Camera de Fetonte, which shows Phaethon, legendary son of Helios, driving his father’s chariot and horses too near the sun, his headlong course ended by a thunderbolt from Zeus, and the Camera dei Giganti, with its depictions of giants. There is a glimpse of the Casino della Grotta, with its encrusted stucco entrance by Giulio Romano and Primaticcio. The power of the Gonzagas is reflected in the Palazzo Ducale. Among the most famous of its rooms is the Camera degli Sposi, with its frescoes by Andrea Mantegna. These include a depiction of Ludovico II Gonzaga and his wife, Barbara of Brandenburg, and their courtiers. Another wall shows the Gonzaga servants, with the dogs and horses for which Mantua was famous. There is a scene of the return to Mantua of Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga, son of Ludovico, and a depiction of the Holy Roman Emperor, Friedrich III, the King of Denmark and Federico Gonzaga. The ceiling is a remarkable example of trompe l’oeil, its central oculus surrounded by putti and other figures.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C major, K.551, ‘Jupiter’

– I. Allegro vivace

Mozart entered his Jupiter Symphony into his catalogue of compositions on 10th August 1788, soon after two other symphonies, perhaps all three intended for possible concerts in Vienna in the coming season. It was once thought that the symphonies were never played in Mozart’s lifetime, but it seems more probable that they were performed, not least because he made later changes in the scoring of Symphony No. 40. The Jupiter Symphony is scored for flute, pairs of oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and timpani, with strings. The first movement is in sonata-allegro form, the themes of the first section, the exposition, developed in the central section and returning in a final modified recapitulation. [All music in this programme is played by Capella Istropolitana conducted by Barry Wordsworth, from Naxos 8.550113]


Lago di Orta: Orta S. Giulio and Sacro Monte
Vigevano: Piazza Ducale • Vercelli: Rice Fields

The Lago di Orta is nearly thirteen kilometres long and over one kilometre wide. Orta San Giulio, by the lakeside, offers a view of the Isola San Giulio, and the Sacro Monte rises nearby, dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. The Piazza Ducale, with its arcades and cathedral, in the old town of Vigévano is said to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci. It has historical importance as the birthplace of leading members of the Sforza family, overlords of Milan. Vercelli is the centre of the largest rice-growing area in Europe, the shoots of the rice plants seen in the half-light over the water.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C major, K.551, ‘Jupiter’

– II. Andante cantabile

The F major slow movement of the Jupiter Symphony is introduced by muted violins and is scored without trumpets and timpani. The music reflects Mozart’s particular genius in capturing the poignancy latent in human affairs.


Cremona: City and Workshop of Violin-Maker Stefano Conia

Lying on the road from Milan to Mantua, the city of Cremona is famous particularly for its place in the history of violin-making, a tradition continued today. It was the home of many famous violin-makers, including the Amati and Guarneri families, and of Antonio Stradivari. Cremona now has an International School of Violin-making and a number of makers continue to ply their craft here. At the heart of the city is the Piazza del Comune, with the 110 metre high Torrazzo and the Romanesque Duomo, founded in the twelfth century.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C major, K.551, ‘Jupiter’

– III. Menuetto: Allegretto

Trumpets and timpani have some part to play again in the third movement Minuet of the Jupiter Symphony, with its contrasting Trio.


Milan: Central Station • Piazza and Duomo • Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Chiesa Sant’Ambrogio • Mozart House in Piazza S. Marco • Naviglio
Cimitero Monumentale

Milan is the second largest city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy. Its Central Station, on the Piazzale Duca d’Aosta, is important for its links with the North East. The Piazza del Duomo is at the heart of the city and the Gothic cathedral itself is remarkable, in particular as the only such example of Northern Gothic architecture in Italy. The present building, on the site of an earlier church, was started in the fourteenth century. It presents a bewildering multiplicity of sculptured figures, with statues on pinnacles and above the whole edifice the gilded copper statue of the Madonna, known as the Madonnina. On the North side of the Piazza is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a glass-roofed shopping arcade, erected in the nineteenth century. This leads to the Piazza della Scala and we catch a glimpse of the famous opera house, the Teatro alla Scala. The basilica of Sant’Ambrogio was built in the fourth century by the great Bishop of Milan, St Ambrose, and underwent various changes over the centuries. The Piazza San Marco offers a memory of Mozart’s visit to the city in 1770, recording his stay at the house of Augustinian Fathers. Navigli are the canals constructed in Milan between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries. The nineteenth-century Cimitero Monumentale contains a wide variety of funerary monuments and the graves of many leading figures in Italian life. There is a grave here also for Carl Thomas Mozart, the famous composer’s younger son, born in 1784, who died in Milan in 1858.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C major, K.551, ‘Jupiter’

– IV. Molto allegro

Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony is also sometimes known as ‘the symphony with a fugue’, a descriptive title based on the last movement, with its strongly fugal element. The main fugal subject is heard in the first bars of the movement, introduced by the first violins.


Sicily: Etna

Mount Etna serves as a symbol for Sicily. 11,000 feet high, and 25 miles in diameter, it remains an active volcano, its crater generally too dangerous to approach. Immediately below is snow, then blackened land, before vegetation is possible, with vines, and then citrus trees in descending order.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K.183 – I. Allegro con brio

Mozart completed his Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K183, on 5th October 1773 at home in Salzburg. He and his father had returned in March from a period spent in Milan for the composition of a new opera, Lucio Silla. Leopold Mozart had pleaded illness in order to delay their departure from Italy, while he sought a position for his son from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Archduke Leopold, a son of the Empress Maria Theresia, who had already made her views known to another son, Archduke Ferdinand, in Milan. There is a dramatic urgency about the first movement, with its opening syncopations, a sonata-form structure.


Sicily: Noto

Noto was largely rebuilt in the early eighteenth century, after the destruction of the old town in the great earthquake of 1693. It contains important public buildings from the period of its reconstruction, largely Baroque in style. The Church of San Francesco, with its imposing steps, was built in 1745. The remains of the old town, settled as early as the eighth century B.C., are a few miles away.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K.183 – II. Andante cantabile

The E flat major slow movement of Symphony No. 25, with its muted strings and scoring, including, unusually, two bassoons, offers a contrast in mood to the more dramatic movement with which the symphony had opened.


Sicily: Agrigento: Valle dei Templi

Agrigento was a sixth-century Greek colonial settlement, but later suffered under Carthaginian attack. There are remains of temples of Hercules, Juno, Olympian Jupiter, Castor and Pollux, and Vulcan. The Temple of Concordia is the best preserved, its 36 Doric columns supporting a triangular pediment and giving the building a distant suggestion of complete survival. Like the Temple of Demeter, it was converted into a church in the Middle Ages.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K.183 – III. Menuetto: Allegretto

The G minor Minuet of Symphony No. 25 has a contrasting G major Trio scored only for the wind instruments of the orchestra.


Sicily: Taormina: Greek Theatre

Taormina, originally Tauromenium, overlooks the Ionian Sea on the east coast of Sicily. Offering panoramic views, Taormina affords a sight of Mount Etna. Amid surviving ruins are those of a Greek theatre, rebuilt by the Romans in the second century A.D. and now still used for theatrical performance.

Music Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K.183 – IV. Molto allegro

The last movement of what was Mozart’s first symphony in a minor key reflects the mood of the opening movement, again marked by urgent syncopations and with the element of counterpoint that had become a feature of symphonic finales.

Keith Anderson

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