MOZART: Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 27 (Andras Ligeti/ Concentus Hungaricus/ Ibolya Toth/ Jeno Jando) (Naxos: 8.550203)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Piano Concerto No.9 in E Flat Major, K. 271 (JeunehommeConcerto)
Piano Concerto No.27 in B Flat Major, K. 595
The solo concerto had become, during the eighteenth century, animportant vehicle for composer-performers, a form of music that had developed from !hework of Johann Sebastian Bach, through his much admired sons Carl Philipp Emanuel andJohann Christian, to provide a happy synthesis of solo and orchestral performance. Mozartw rote his first numbered piano concertos, arrangements derived from other composers, in1767, undertaking further arrangements from Johann Christian Bach a few years later. Hisfirst attempt at writing a concerto, however, had been at the age of four or five,described by a friend of the family as a smudge of notes, although, his father claimed,very correctly composed. In Salzburg as an adolescent Mozart wrote half a dozen pianoconcertos, the last of these for two pianos after his return from Paris. The remainingseventeen piano concertos were written in Vienna, principally for his own use in thesubscription concerts that he organised there during the last decade of his life.
The second half of the eighteenth century also broughtconsiderable changes in keyboard instruments, as the harpsichord was gradually supersededby the fortepiano or pianoforte, with its hammer action, an instrument capable of dynamicnuances impossible on the older instrument, while the hammer-action clavichord from whichthe piano developed had too little carrying power for public performance. The instrumentsMozart had in Vienna, by the best contemporary makers, had a lighter touch than the modernpiano, with action and leather-padded hammers that made greater delicacy of articulationpossible, among other differences. They seem well suited to Mozart's own style of playing,by comparison with which the later virtuosity of Beethoven seemed to some contemporariesrough and harsh.
The so-called JeunehommeConcerto was written in Salzburg in January 1777 for the French virtuosa,Mademoiselle Jeunehomme, whose name appears in various misspellings in the Mozart familycorrespondence. She had visited Salzburg at the end of 1776, the occasion for thecomposition of the concerto, and Mozart was to renew the acquaintance in Paris in thefollowing year. He made use of the concerto, a particularly brilliant work, himself, andplayed it in Munich and Paris and probably at his first public concert in Vienna in 1781.
Three sets of cadenzas survive for the third movement and two for the first and second,the later ones written for Vienna.
There is a change in opening procedure in the E flat Concerto, with the soloist entering briefly inthe second bar, instead of waiting until the end of the orchestral exposition. Theappearance is a brief one, followed by a gentler theme from the orchestra, which, asusual, consists of strings with pairs of oboes and horns. The opening figure is heardagain, after which the soloist enters with par1 of a new theme, before going on to developthe first subject that we have heard and offer its own version of the second theme.
Elements of themes already heard form the substance of the central development, which isduly followed by a modified recapitulation, including a cadenza by the composer.
The second movement of the concerto, in C minor, reminds us ofthe essentially operatic vocal style of much of Mozart's music. Here, in the first theme,there are obvious affinities to operatic recitative, here tragic in cast, with all thedeep melancholy that the choice of key implies. The mood changes into E flat major, to bereplaced again by the prevailing feeling of sadness. This is quickly dispelled by theopening of the final rondo, although the movement is not without its moments of drama.
Concerto in B flat major, K. 595, completed on 5thJanuary, 1791. Mozart played the concerto at a concer1 for the clarinet virtuoso JosephBahr on 4th March, given in a room belonging to the restaurateur Jahn. The year,never1heless, was a busy one and seemed likely to bring a turn for the better in Mozart'sfortunes. Emanuel Schikaneder, an actor-manager well known for his Shakespeareanperformances, had devised a magic German opera, DieZauberflote (The Magic Flute), which was staged in the autumn at the suburbanTheater an der Wieden, to be described by the critical diarist Count von Zinzendorf as"une farce incroyable". Whatever its dramatic peculiarities, the music was muchenjoyed by the general public. There had been a commission also from Prague for an operaseria, La clemenza di Tito, to celebrate thecoronation in that city of the Emperor Leopold II. The work was performed there in earlySeptember to the disgust of the Empress, Who had little time for such "porcheriatedesca", and of Count von Zinzendorf, Who was bored. The same year Mozart began hisRequiem, a work that he never finished, and wrote his ClarinetConcerto and Clarinet Quintet.
The B flat Piano Concerto
is scored for an orchestra without trumpets and drums. After the orchestral exposition thesoloist enters with the first subject and goes on to a passage in F minor, before the Fmajor second subject emerges. There is a central development of inventive freedom beforethe recapitulation, with its composed cadenza. The soloist opens the Larghetto, followedby the orchestra, after which the piano adds an extension of the theme in musicessentially in the form of a rondo, characterised by the repetition of the main themebetween episodes. The last movement has a hunting theme, similar in character to therondos that end Mozart's Horn Concertos andclosely resembling his setting of Christian Adolf Overbeck's Sehnsucht nach dem Fr??hling: Komm, lieber Mai, und mache dieBaume wieder gr??n, K. 596, written on 14th January. The movement hascontrasts of mood and key and a bravura element in the brilliant writing for the soloinstrument, in music that is at times introspective and always deeply felt. The concertois comparable to the greatest that Mozart w rote in times of greater optimism, a fittingconclusion to a remarkable series of works.
Jeno Jando was born at Pecs, in south Hungary, in 1952. Hestarted to learn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academyof Music under Katalin Nemes and Pal Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latter on hisgraduation in 1974. Jand6 has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad,including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in thechamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. In additionto his many appearances in Hungary, he has played widely abroad in Eastern and WesternEurope, in Canada and in Japan.
He is currently engaged in a project to record all Mozart'spiano concertos for Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos ofGrieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's SecondConcerto and Paganini Rhapsody
and Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.
The Concentus Hungaricus was established in February 1985 byPeter Popa and consists of leading members of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra under theco-leadership of Ildiko Hegyi and Pal Andrassy. The 16 member ensemble has worked withleading Hungarian and foreign musicians, including Vilmos Tatrai, Andras Mihaly, MiklosPerenyi, Denes Kovacs, Jeno Jando, Gyorgy Pauk and Viktoria Jagling, and performsfrequently at home and abroad. The repertoire of the group ranges from Purcell and Corel