MOZART: Serenades K. 185 and K. 203 (Harald Nerat/ Lavard Skou Larsen/ Salzburg Chamber Orchestra/ Teije van Geest) (Naxos: 8.550413)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Serenade in D Major K. 185 & March K. 189
Serenade in D Major K. 203 & March K. 237
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of a courtmusician who, in the year of his youngest child's birth, published aninfluential book on violin-playing. Leopold Mozart rose to occupy the positionof Vice-Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg, but sacrificed his owncreative career to that of his son, in whom he detected early signs ofprecocious genius. With the indulgence of his patron, he was able to undertakeextended concert tours of Europe in which his son and his eider sister Nannerlwere able to astonish audiences. The boy played both the keyboard and the violinand could improvise and soon write down his own compositions.
Childhood that had brought signal success was followed by a less satisfactoryperiod of adolescence largely in Salzburg, under the patronage of a new and lesssympathetic Archbishop. Mozart, like his father, found opportunities far toolimited at home, while chances of travel were now restricted. In 1777, whenleave of absence was not granted, he gave up employment in Salzburgto seek afuture elsewhere, but neither Mannheim nor Paris, both musical centres of someimportance, had anything for him. His Mannheim connections, however, brought acommission for an opera in Munich in 1781, and after its successful staging hewas summoned by his patron to Vienna. There Mozart's dissatisfaction with hisposition resulted in a quarrel with the Archbishop and dismissal from hisservice.
The last ten years of Mozart's life were spent in Vienna in precariousindependence of both patron and immediate paternal advice, a situationaggravated by an imprudent marriage. Initial success in the opera-house and as aperformer was followed, as the decade went on, by increasing financialdifficulties. By the time of his death in December 1791, however, his fortunesseemed about to change for the better, with the success of the German opera TheMagic Flute, and the possibility of increased patronage.
The serenade in the later eighteenth century was an essentially occasionalcomposition, designed for evening entertainment or celebration. These works weregenerally in a number of movements and proved particularly popular in Salzburg,where Leopold Mozart himself had contributed notably and prolifically to thegenre. A serenade would normally open and close with a march and include asonata-form movement, two slow movements and two or three minuets. Originallyintended for outdoor performance and therefore entrusted principally to windinstruments, the form came to include indoor chamber or orchestral music of asimilar character.
It is generally thought that the Serenade in D major, K. 185, waswritten in July and early August 1773 as Finalmusik for the end of the academicyear in Salzburg, where Judas Thaddaus von Andretter, son of the Salzburg WarCouncillor, was completing his year in Logic at the Benedictine University. Itwas the custom to mark these occasions by open-air concerts in the Mirabeilplatz,in front of the summer residence of the ruling Prince-Archbishop, repeated inthe Kollegienplatz for the benefit of the professors. Mozart completed the workduring a visit that summer to Vienna, where, accompanied only by his father, hehoped to find a position at court. The stay in Vienna brought renewedacquaintance with the Mesmers, for whom Mozart had written his Singspiel Bastienund Bastienne five years before.
The Finalmusik opens with a March scored for pairs of flutes, horns andtrumpets and a string section without violas. This is followed by the firstmovement of the Serenade, an Allegro, in which the oboes are replaced by flutesand violas now appear in the score. The movement, according to custom, is insonata-form, its two themes developed in the central section, before theirre-appearance in the final section. The succeeding F major slow movement, markedAndante and scored without flutes or trumpets, makes use of a solo violin, whichalso has apart to play in the following F major Allegro.
The original key returns, with flutes and trumpets, for the first Minuet,which has a G major Trio scored only for flute, violas and bass, and this leadsto a further slow movement, in the key of A major. The second Minuet is bravelyintroduced, the strings joined now by oboes, horns and trumpets, with a firstTrio in the key of D minor and scored for solo violin accompanied only byviolins and viola and a second Trio that restores both the key and the fullsonority of the orchestra. An Adagio, with a running second violin part, leadsto a concluding Allegro, introduced by the strings, after which the March isrepeated, as the musicians take their leave.
The Serenade in D major, K. 203, was probably written in Salzburg inthe summer of 1774, for an occasion that has not been recorded, although it hasbeen suggested that it was intended for the name-day of the Archbishop on 30thSeptember and was, therefore, completed unusually early for such an event. Theopening March is scored for pairs of oboes, bassoons, horns and trumpets, and astring section without violas. The Serenade, now with first and second viola,starts with the usual sonata-form movement, to which there is a slowerintroduction. The first of the slow movements follows, in the key of B fiatmajor and scored with a solo violin. The first Minuet in F major, is played bythe strings alone, with a solo violin playing a concertante part in theaccompanying B fiat major Trio. Oboes and horns return for the ensuing Allegro,which allows the solo violin interesting patterns of cross rhythm with the restof the string section. The second Minuet replaces oboes with flutes and has acompanion Trio in A major scored for solo flute, solo bassoon and strings. Mutedstrings open the Andante, the melody of the first violin now I accompanied by abusy repeated figure from the second violins. There is now a third Minuet ofstrong outline, coupled with a D minor Trio for solo oboe and strings. This iscapped by a brilliant and rapid final movement, after which the J opening Marchis repeated.
Salzburg Chamber Orchestra
The Salzburg Chamber Orchestra was formed in 1988 from the ensemble of theMozart Serenade concerts, consisting primarily of members of the MozarteumOrchestra. The string orchestra is augmented as required by wind players (twooboes, two horns and others). The orchestra has a repertoire centred chiefly onthe music of Mozart and has travelled extensively throughout Europe.
Harald Nerat studied viola, composing and conducting at the Vienna Academyfor Music and the Arts. His subsequent positions included that of principalviola in the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Johann Strauss Orchestra ofVienna, as well as section leader in the Vienna Volkspoer.
Harald Nerat has been a member of the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg since1979 and in 1986 instituted the Salzburg Mozart Serenades with over 80 concertseach year.