MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 29, 30 and 38 (Barry Wordsworth/ Capella Istropolitana/ Teije van Geest) (Naxos: 8.550119)
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Wolfang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Symphony in A Major, K. 201
Symphony in D Major, K. 202
Symphony in D Major, K. 504 'Prague'
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, thesecond surviving child and onIy surviving son of Leopold Mozart, a violinist and composerin the service of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. The boy was taught by his father, whoin 1756 had published his famous book on violin-playing and enjoyed something of areputation both for this and for his wider cultural interests, typical of the newgeneration of musicians of the mid-eighteenth century. By the age of six Mozart had shownsuch obvious ability that his father resolved to dedicate himself to the furthering ofwhat seemed a God-given talent. Tours followed, to Munich, Vienna and the imperial palaceat Schonbrunn, to Pressburg (the modern Bratislava), and in 1763 to Paris and to London.
The greater part of Mozart's childhood passed in this way, as he and his elder sisterAnna-Maria performed at the keyboard, and the boy, at least, set himself to theconcomitant experience of composition, learning eagerly not only from his father but fromthe very distinguished musicians that he met on his travels.
In 1769 Mozart, accompanied by his father, made the first ofhis three extended visits to Italy, honoured by the Pope with the title Knight of theGolden Spur and instructed in Bologna by the doyen of Italian composers, Padre Martini. Hewas to return to Italy in the autumn of 1771 for the performance of his stage-work Ascanio in Alba in Milan, where the opera Lucio Silla was commissioned for the following year,and where hopes of permanent employment at the court of the imperial governor, a son ofthe Empress, proved illusory. The decade was to bring Mozart little satisfaction. He andhis father continued to entertain material ambitions that Salzburg could never satisfy,particularly since the death of the old Archbishop in December, 1771, and the successionof a more modern churchman, sympathetic to the reforms that Joseph II was to institute inecclesiastical affairs.
In 1777 Mozart left the archiepiscopal service, the only way hecould now secure the freedom to travel as he wished, while his father chose to retain thenecessary security of his employment at Salzburg, where, since 1763, he had held theposition of Vicekapellmeister, the summit of his career. Accompanied by his mother, ahomely woman who exercised no authority over her son, he visited Munich, spent time withhis father's relations in Augsburg, dawdled hopefully in Mannheim, where his associationwith the young singer AIoysia Weber suggested dreams of successful concert tours together,and finally reached Paris. He found France and the French aristocracy little to his likingand failed to make the kind of impression that his earlier visits as an infant prodigy hadexcited. In June his mother died, and in September he began to make his way slowly back toSalzburg, where he was to be reinstated, remaining a reluctant servant of the archbishopuntil a final quarrel and breach during the course of a visit to Vienna in 1781.
The last ten years of Mozart's life were spent in Vienna, inindependence of his father and of a patron. As a performer he aroused immediate interest,which he met for a time by an astonishing series of piano concertos, while as a composerhe achieved successes in a form denied him in provincial Salzburg, with a popular Germanopera in 1782, followed by The Marriage of Figaro,Don Giovanni, and then Cosi fan tutte. In 1791, the year of his death, hisfortunes, which had waned materially as Vienna became accustomed to his presence, seemedto have turned. In that year he wrote an opera for the coronation of the new Emperor inPrague - from Vienna there had been no such commission - and in the later autumn hisGerman opera The Magic Flute was staged in a suburban theatre in the capital to generalapproval. By the end of the year he was dead, leaving material ambitions unrealised andthe Requiem, about which he had had moments of superstitious fear, incomplete.
The splendid Symphony in AMajor, K. 201, was completed in Salzburg on 6th April, 1774, its compositionfalling, therefore, between his return from a brief visit to Vienna in the autumn of 1773and a journey to Munich at the end of 1774 for the staging of his new opera La finta giardiniera. The symphony is scored for thetraditional orchestra of strings, with pairs of oboes and French horns, and is in theusual four movements.
The Symphony in D Major, K.
202, bears the date 5th May, 1774, and is, therefore, also a product of amaterially fallow period in Salzburg. It is scored for the usual orchestral forces, withthe addition of a pair of trumpets - trombe lunghe, in the composer's autograph.
The Prague Symphony
belongs to the last decade of Mozart's life and was completed in Vienna on 6th December,1786, to be given its first performance at the Prague National Theatre on 19th January inthe following year. The Bohemian capital had always held Mozart in special regard andduring the composer's visit the concert at which the symphony was played included Mozart'skeyboard improvisations, one on a theme from Figaro, a performance of which he directedtwo days later. It was for Prague that he was to compose the opera Don Giovanni in 1787, the year of the symphony, whichseems to have formed part of the memorial programme in the presence of Mozart's widow andson Karl in 1794.
Known sometimes as the symphony without a Minuet, containingonly three movements, the Symphony in D Major, K. 504,calls for an orchestra that includes pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets,timpani and strings.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in 1983 by members of theSlovak Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamber orchestra and then as an orchestralarge enough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Based in Bratislava, its namedrawn from the ancient name still preserved in the Academia Istropolitana, the historicuniversity established in the Slovak and one-time Hungarian capital by Matthias Corvinus,the orchestra works principally in the recording studio. Recordings by the orchestra inthe Naxos series include The Best of Baroque Music,Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, fifteen eachof Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as well as works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.
Barry Wordsworth's career has been dominated by his work forthe Royal Ballet which started when he played the solo part in Frank Martin's HarpsichordConcerto, which was the score used by Sir Kenneth MacMillan for his ballet, Las Hermanas. In 1973 he became Assistant Conductorof the Royal Ballet's Touring Orchestra and in 1974 Principal Conductor of Sadlers WellsRoyal Ballet. He made his debut at Covent Garden conducting MacMillan's Manon in 1975 and since then has conducted therefrequently. He has toured extensively with the Royal Ballet, conducting orchestras in NewZealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Canada and Australia, where he has been Guestconductor for Australian Ballet.
In 1987 while retaining his connection with both Royal BalletCompanies as Guest conductor, Barry Wordsworth also worked with the Royal LiverpoolPhilharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Ulster Orchestra,the BBC Concert and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. He also continued to work with NewSadlers Wells Opera, with whom he has