MOZART: Serenade No. 9, 'Posthorn' / Notturno (Capella Istropolitana/ Hans Gansch/ Martin Turnovsky) (Naxos: 8.550092)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Serenade in D Major, K. 320 (PosthornSerenade)
Notturno in D Major for four orchestras,K. 286
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born inSalzburg in 1756, the son of a court musician, Leopold Mozart, author in thesame year of an important book on violin-playing and later Vice-Kapellmeisterto the ruling Archbishop of Salzburg, in whose service he spent his entirecareer. Leopold Mozart was quick to perceive the exceptional musical gifts ofhis son and saw it as his god-given duty to devote himself to fostering them,providing him with sound musical training and a good general education.
Mozart spent much of his childhoodtravelling to the major musical centres of Europe, where he amazed those whoheard him by his musical precocity, performing at the keyboard with his eldersister, Nannerl, the only other surviving child of his father's marriage.
Journeys to Italy involved commissions for opera, but the death of the oldArchbishop and succession of a much less sympathetic prelate in 1772 curtailedtravel, while adolescence in Salzburg brought its own dissatisfactions. Mozartthought he deserved something better, an opinion in which his father heartilyconcurred.
In an effort to find a more congenialposition, Mozart left Salzburg in 1777, spending time at Mannheim, where hemade friends with some of the musicians employed in what was then one of themost famous orchestras in Europe, and moving thereafter to the original goal ofhis journey, Paris. France, however, proved disappointing, and by the beginningof 1779 he was back again in Salzburg, reinstated in the service of theArchbishop, but chafing under the restrictions of his position and the lack ofwider opportunity.
In the later months of 1780 Mozart waspermitted to travel to Munich for the preparation of a new opera, Idomeneo,commissioned through his Mannheim friends by the Elector of Bavaria, who nowheld court there. From Munich, after successful performances of the opera inJanuary 1781, Mozart was summoned by his patron to Vienna, where his positionin the household of the Archbishop seemed to deny him the manifoldopportunities of a brilliant career that Vienna appeared to offer. A quarrelwith his patron resulted in ignominious dismissal and a final career of tenyears in Vienna which brought initial success. Mozart established himself as acomposer of opera, at first for the new German opera and then for the Italianopera to which the Emperor had been compelled to return, with Le nozze diFigaro in 1786 and Don Giovanni in 1787, the year of his father's death. Heorganised subscription concerts, at many of which he appeared as soloist in newpiano concertos of his composition, and attracted many pupils. His marriage in1782 to an impecunious cousin of the future composer Carl Maria von Weberbrought its own problems and he was frequently in financial difficulty in hislast years, although there were signs of a change of fortune in the greatpopularity of his last German opera, Die Zauberflote, which was playing in asuburban theatre at the time of his sudden death on 5th December 1791.
During the course of his career Mozartfound many demands for music of a lighter kind, suitable entertainment for hislisteners at some social gathering. His only official appointment at the courtof the Emperor Joseph II had been, nominally at least, to provide such music,as Johann Strauss did nearly a century later. The so-called Posthorn Serenade,K. 320, was completed on 3rd August 1779 in Salzburg and seems to have been intendedas Finalmusik to mark the end of the academic year at the University. It wasthe custom for students to perform before the Prince Archbishop, at his summerresidence at the Schloss Mirabell, returning, to the accompaniment of a march,to the college buildings to repeat the performance for their professors. Theposthorn was, therefore, a particularly appropriate instrument to mark thedeparture of the students from the University, their studies now ended, itssound associated always, as in Bach's keyboard Capriccio on his brother'sjourney, with the departure of the coach.
The Serenade is scored for pairs ofoboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, a pair of flutes and a flautino(here a piccolo), posthorn and strings. It opens with a slow introduction fromwhich post horn and flutes are excluded, proceeding to a livelier Allegro conspirito in sonata form, its second, gentler subject given at first to thestrings of the orchestra. The first of the Minuets, with its A Major Trio,leads to a movement marked Concertante, opened by the strings and bassoons, towhich solo wind instruments are added, re-appearing towards the end of themovement in a brief cadenza.
The flutes are first used in the Rondeau,in which trumpets and drums are silent, as they are in the following D MinorAndantino, which is also without flutes. The Minuet is again scored fortrumpets and drums, with a first Trio for strings and piccolo and a second Triothat introduces the limited notes of the posthorn. The Finale returns to theorchestra of normal festive convention, without flutes, but strengthened bytrumpets and drums, a postscript to the posthorn's brief moment of passingglory.
The Notturno for four orchestras, K. 286,has no precise date, but has been attributed by some to December 1776 orJanuary 1777, and written, perhaps, for carnival in Salzburg. It is, in anycase, clearly incomplete, consisting of only three movements, the last of thema Minuet, to which a later Trio was added. The four identical orchestras, the second,third and fourth having the functions of an echo, consist of a pair of hornsand strings. The first movement embarks at once on the provision of diminishingechoes, as the repetitions of the opening phrase become even more fragmentary,the first echo unable to reproduce more than a few bars of one of the moreextended declarations of the first orchestra. The same procedure is followed inthe Allegretto grazioso and to some extent in the Minuet, with its rival pairsof horns following close one group on the other, while the Trio appears in thesurviving source, a copy once in the possession of Mozart's biographer OttoJahn, scored only for four string parts, without apparent added echo.
Hans Gansch was born at Kirnberg in LowerAustria in 1953 and studied the trumpet at the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz,graduating with distinction in 1976, after a period of two years already spentas first trumpet in the Linz Bruckner Orchestra. He followed this with similarpositions in the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra and at the Vienna Staatsoperand since 1985 has played first trumpet in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
In addition to a career as a soloist, Hans Gansch has appeared in variousensembles, including Prisma, Kontrapunkte, Okulus and the Pro Brass Ensemble.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in1983 by members of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamberorchestra and then as an orchestra large enough to tackle the standardclassical repertoire. Based in Bratislava, its name drawn from the ancient namestill preserved in the Academia Istropolitana, the historic universityestablished in the Slovak and one-time Hungarian capital by Matthias Corvinus,the orchestra works principally in the recording studio. Recordings by theorchestra on the Naxos label include The Best of Baroque Music, Bach'sBrandenburg Concertos, fifteen each of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as wellas works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.