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8.550512 - MOZART, W.A.: Church Sonatas (Complete)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) Complete Church Sonatas

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the only surviving son and second surviving child of Leopold Mozart, later Vice-Kapellmeister in the musical establishment of the Prince- Archbishop. His father soon realised the exceptional talent of his son, which he carefully nurtured, thereby sacrificing his own career as a composer and violinist. Mozart and his older sister Anna-Maria, a gifted keyboard-player, toured Europe, amazing audiences by their musical precocity, while Leopold Mozart saw to it that his son profited from the experience that travel could bring. Journeys to Italy followed, and there the young Mozart was able to satisfy the ambition that any composer of the day would have by the composition of operas. By 1772, however, childhood had come to an end, and Mozart, now sixteen, was faced by the necessity of employment; now under a new archbishop in Salzburg, a man of modernising tendencies in matters liturgical, who nevertheless retained a very clear idea of w hat was due to him from members of his court musical establishment. A remaining obligation in Milan was fulfilled, with the opera Lucio Silla, but from now on opportunities for travel were more restricted. In 1777 Mozart, refused leave of absence, resigned from his position as Konzertmeister in the archiepiscopal service, seeking employment at first in Mannheim and then in Paris, but to no purpose. By 1779 he was with mutual reluctance in the service of the archbishop once more, this time as court organist. Matters came to a head after the success of his opera Idomeneo in Munich and a subsequent visit to Vienna in the entourage of the arch bishop. The denial of opportunities for performance there led to a final quarrel and Mozart's dismissal. For the last ten years of his life he remained in Vienna in precarious independence, taking a dowerless wife, and attracting initial attention as a composer, performer and teacher, until the novelty wore off, and audiences sought new attractions. At the time of his death in 1791 Mozart's fortunes seemed about to take a turn for the better, with the success of the German opera The Magic Flute and the possibility of employment at the Cathedral.

The seventeen brief Church Sonatas or Epistle Sonatas were written for use in Salzburg between the years 1772 and 1780. The first group of three, K. 67 - 69, were written in the former year and are scored, as are the majority of these short pieces, for two violins, bass and organ. The brevity of these single-movement works is explained by the new archbishop's insistence that the entire Mass should not last more than three-quarters of an hour, an abbreviation that Mozart himself deplored, as we understand from a letter on the subject written in 1776 to his former mentor, Padre Martini, in Bologna. The second of the group, K. 68, in B flat major, introduces a brief element of contrapuntal imitation in a second subject, the whole in an abridged sonata form, found also in the third of these sonatas, K. 69, in D major. The same year has been proposed as the year of composition of the sonatas K. 144 and K. 145, similar in form and scoring, and explicable by the fact that Mozart was now employed as Konzertmeister of the Cathedral orchestra and was obliged to spend five months of 1772 at home, before returning to Italy towards the end of the year.

The following six sonatas, K. 212, K. 241, K. 224, K. 225, K. 244, K. 245 and K. 274, also scored for two violins, bass and organ, have been credibly ascribed to the years 1776 and 1777 in Salzburg. K. 263, in C major, includes a pair of trumpets in its scoring, adding ceremonial emphasis. It was written in December 1776. K. 278, in C major, written in March/April1777, is scored for two violins, cello, bass, pairs of oboes, trumpets and drums and organ.

On his return from Paris early in 1779 Mozart assumed more specific cathedral duties. The Epistle Sonata K. 329, in C major, is scored for strings without viola, and pairs of oboes, French horns, trumpets and drums, with a more elaborate part for the organ, which he played himself. K. 328 returns to simpler orchestration, two violins, bass and organ, the instrumentation of the last of the series, K. 336, written in March 1780, but now with a solo organ part, as weIl as a ripieno organ basso continuo.

János Sebestyén
János Sebestyén was born in Budapest in 1931 and studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music. In 1971 he established the harpsichord department of the Academy, which he has headed since that date. His career as a performer and teacher has taken him as far afield as Japan, his reputation increased by his very successful recordings for a number of record companies, both in Hungary and abroad. A number of important awards in Hungary have added distinction, including in 1984 the title Cavalière of the Italian Republic for services to music.

Ferenc Erkel Chamber Orchestra
The Ferenc Erkel Chamber Orchestra, named after the distinguished 19th century Hungarian composer, was formed in 1985 by fourteen students of the Bela Bartók Conservatory in Budapest. The artistic director of the orchestra, which plays without a conductor, is the violinist Lili Aldor, a member of the Ferenc Liszt Chamber Orchestra. The orchestra has a repertoire that ranges from the Baroque to the twentieth century and has won praise in Hungary and abroad for the youthful energy and brilliance of its performance.

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