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8.553960 - CANNABICH: Symphonies Nos. 59, 63, 64, 67 and 68
In 1777 Mozart visited Mannheim in his search for more suitable employment than he had found in his native Salzburg. He found there one of the most proficient orchestras in Europe, described by Charles Burney in 1772 as an army of generals, 'equally fit to plan a battle as to fight it'. He was entertained with great kindness by Christian Cannabich, the director of instrumental music at the court of the Elector Palatine, and his family. When no opportunity offered itself at the court in Mannheim, Mozart and his mother travelled on to Paris and it was there, in early July, that his mother died. It was in a letter breaking this news to his father in Salzburg, that Mozart was explicit in his praise of Cannabich and his musicians. In Mannheim, he points out, matters are treated seriously, unlike the situation in Salzburg, and Cannabich, the best conductor he has ever seen, is both loved and feared by his subordinates, respected by the whole town, as are his soldiers. The praise is significant coming from Mozart, who often found much to criticize in the musicians he met.
Christian Cannabich was born in Mannheim in 1731, the third child of the court musician Martin Friedrich Cannabich, an oboist and flautist, who had served in the musical establishment of the Elector Palatine Johann Wilhelm in Düsseldorf, a body of musicians amalgamated in 1718 by Johann Wilhelm's successor, the Elector Carl Philipp, with his own musicians, establishing a capital now in Heidelberg. In 1720 the court, with its musical establishment soon increased to 56, moved to Mannheim. The number of musicians grew considerably under Carl Philipp's successor, the Elector Carl Theodor, who presided over a court that had now become one of the most brilliant in Europe. The instrumental music, from 1750, was under the direction of Johann Stamitz, who had joined the establishment in 1741/42, and it was under his energetic leadership that the orchestra achieved an astonishingly high level of discipline and proficiency.
Martin Friedrich Cannabich, much respected and amply rewarded by the Elector, to whom he gave flute lessons, was pensioned in 1752/53 and died in 1759. His son Christian was a violin pupil of Johann Stamitz and joined the orchestra as a 'scholar' in 1744, becoming a court musician two years later In. 1750 Cannabich was sent to Rome to study with Nicolò Jommelli and in 1753 went with him to Stuttgart, when the latter was appointed Ober-Kapellmeister in the musical establishment of Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg, building there an orchestra of similar brilliance to that in Mannheim. Cannabich returned to Italy the following year, to Milan, where he took lessons from Giovanni Battista Sammartini. In late 1756 or early 1757 he returned to Mannheim, rejoining the orchestra as the third of the first violins, promoted in 1758 or 1759 to the position of concert-master, shared with the violinist Carl Joseph Toeschi. In 1759 he married Maria Elisabetha de la Motte, lady of the bed-chamber to the Duchess of Zweibrücken, and she was to bear him six children. In 1764 he went with Duke Christian IV of Zweibrücken to Paris, where Mannheim symphonies were finding an audience, and was there again in 1766, when he met the Mozarts and was given a royal licence to publish six symphonies and six trios. He won further distinction in Paris as a violinist and composer during the course of a further visit in 1772. In 1774 he became director of court instrumental music in Mannheim, now writing music for the ballets choreographed by Etienne Lauchery, the court director of ballet.
On the death of the Elector of Bavaria in late December 1777, the Elector Palatine, his heir, moved his court to Munich, taking with him many of his musicians. In Munich Cannabich was able to amalgamate the musicians of the two establishments, giving particular attention to the Mannheim wind-players, whose exceptional abilities were of great importance. He was able to provide regular concerts for music-lovers in the so-called Liebhaberkonzerte established in 1783 and wrote symphonies for these occasions, eventually seeking from the Elector some additional reward when, after the death of Carl Joseph Toeschi in 1788, he found himself having to provide a greater quantity of music.
The Munich orchestra at its height employed a substantial complement of players, with 34 violinists, seven viola-players, eight cellists and six double-bass players. Wind-players included seven flautists, five oboists, four clarinettists, five bassoon-players and eight horn-players, a far cry from the skeleton ensembles of smaller principalities and less well-to-do patrons. During Cannabich's final years of service the whole Munich musical establishment was reduced in numbers from 95 to 70 and there were economies in payments to musicians. He died in January 1798 while visiting his son Carl in Frankfurt am Main. The latter now returned to Munich to assume the position of concert-master and in 1800 that of court director of music. He died in 1806.
Prolific and successful as a composer, in spite of the reservations felt by Leopold Mozart and to some extent by his son Wolfgang, Cannabich left more than seventy symphonies, the greater part seemingly written during the many years he spent in Mannheim. Symphony No. 59 in D major is scored for the conventional orchestra of two oboes, two horns and strings and the opening Allegro starts with a strong emphasis on the tonic and dominant of the key, the initial motif shared by the first and second violins. Oboes, no longer doubling as they had done at first, provide, in duet, a further element of the first subject. There is contrasting material in an exposition that is not repeated and a brief development before the recapitulation and final coda. The G major Andante offers subjects in tonic and dominant which then return in recapitulation in the tonic key. The final Presto follows without a break, contrasting its recurrent principal theme with a secondary episode in triplets and providing, as elsewhere in the symphony, for well known features of Mannheim style, the use of wide leaps in the violins and of dynamic changes, which, under Cannabich, were a wonder of orchestral discipline.
Symphony No. 63 in D major is more elaborately scored, calling on pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and timpani, as well as the inevitable strings. The first movement starts with a slow introduction, in its emphatic unison once more characteristic of Mannheim. This leads to an Allegro in broadly classical form. Here another Mannheim effect, the disciplined crescendo for which the orchestra was famous, is marked in the surviving parts. The A major slow movement, marked Andante moderato, starts with a gently lilting oboe melody, taken up by the first violin. The strings provide a second element, in a related key, before the clarinet brings back the original theme, accompanied by the violins only. There is a shift to A minor, as the secondary material returns, but it is the first melody and key that finally prevails. The Presto is in classical tripartite form, with two contrasted subjects, a rather more extended development, and a final recapitulation, with the two subjects now both in D major.
There is no slow introduction to start the first movement of Symphony No. 64 in F major, scored now for pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns, with the necessary strings, now in five parts, with first and second violas. The first subject of the opening Allegro makes use, as Mannheim composers often did, of the device of sequence, with the first phrase answered by a parallel phrase of the same outline. Again there are wide leaps in the first violin part, a related second subject in C major, with a use of woodwind and single strings, and an exciting, gradual crescendo. The central development is duly followed by the expected recapitulation, with a crescendo leading to the final coda. The slow movement, marked Andante and in B flat major, omits the French horns and offers contrasts of subject and key in its first section, which later returns in recapitulation in the key of the movement. The symphony ends with a Presto that opens emphatically, in Mannheim style. As in the first movement, the oboes are entrusted with the presentation of the second subject. The development of this sonata-form movement finds room for a crescendo, a feature that precedes the final coda in the recapitulatory third section.
Symphony No. 67 in G major makes use of a single flute, with pairs of oboes and horns, in addition to a four-part string section. The flute adds colour to a repetition of the first subject and features prominently in the second. There are crescendi in both the development and the recapitulation. The following Andante con moto is in C major and the principal theme is entrusted to the strings alone, with the full entry of the wind instruments delayed until the A minor second half of the movement. The principal theme returns, followed now by an excursion into C minor, before its definitive restatement in conclusion. Sequence is a feature of the first subject of the final Presto, with its exploration of remoter keys and use of varied techniques and textures, which include the use of pizzicato strings and strong dynamic contrasts.
In the key of B flat major, Symphony No. 68 is scored for pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns, with strings. The Allegro starts with the expected emphasis on the tonic key and Cannabich, as elsewhere, makes full use of the possibilities of contrast between the wind instruments and the strings. Use is made of dynamic variations, including two suitably placed uses of crescendo, a feature of Mannheim discipline that seems inevitable. There is an exploration of minor keys and modifications to the expected form in a modified recapitulation. The E flat major Andante moderato assai is opened by the horns, echoed by the violins. As in other slow movements, the exposition is repeated, and there is a shift into other tonalities before the return of the horns, with the principal theme. The symphony ends with an Allegro vivace. The contrasting second subject is started by the woodwind, as it is in the recapitulation, preceded in both cases by a diminuendo. The first subject in recapitulation appears in the dominant key and it is left to the second to restore the original key and lead, through a variety of dynamic contrasts, to the final grand coda.
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