MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 36, 33 and 27 (Barry Wordsworth/ Capella Istropolitana/ Karol Kopernicky) (Naxos: 8.550264)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Symphonies Nos. 36 'Linz', 33 and 27
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of acourt musician, Leopold Mozart, author in the same year of an important book onviolin-playing and later Vice-Kapellmeister to the ruling Archbishop ofSalzburg, in whose service he spent his entire career. Leopold Mozart was quickto perceive the exceptional musical gifts of his son and saw it as hisGod-given duty to devote himself to fostering them, providing him with soundmusical training and a good general education.
Mozart spent much of his childhood travelling to the major musicalcentres of Europe, where he amazed those who heard him by his musicalprecocity, performing at the keyboard with his eider sister, Nannerl, the onlyother surviving child of his father's marriage. Journeys to Italy involvedcommissions for opera, but the death of the old Archbishop and succession of amuch less sympathetic prelate in 1772 cur1ailed travel, while adolescence in Salzburgbrought its own dissatisfactions. Mozart thought he deserved something better,an opinion in which his father heartily concurred.
In an effort to find a more congenial position, Mozart left Salzburg in1777, spending time at Mannheim where he made friends with some of themusicians employed in w hat was then one of the most famous orchestras inEurope, and moving thereafter to the original goal of his journey, Paris.
France, however, proved disappointing, and by the beginning of 1779 he was backagain in Salzburg, reinstated in the service of the Archbishop, but chafingunder the restrictions of his position and the lack of wider opportunity.
In the later months of 1780 Mozart was permitted to travel to Munichfor 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 otter. 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 di Figaro in 1786 and DonGiovanni in 1787, the year of his father's death. He organised subscriptionconcerts, at many of which he appeared as soloist in new piano concertos of hiscomposition, and attracted many pupils. His marriage in 1782 to an impecunlouscousin of the future composer Carl Maria von Weber brought its own problems andhe was frequently in financial difficulty in his last years, although there wasa sign of change of fortune in the great popularity of his last German opera, Die Zauberflote, which was playing in asuburban theatre at the time of his sudden death on 5th December 1791.
Symphony No.36 in C major, K. 425,was written in the space of a few days at the castle in Linz of Count JohannJoseph Anton von Thun-Hohenstein at the end of October and beginning of November 1783. Mozart and his wifeKonstanze had spent three months in Salzburg, their first visit since theirmarriage and the latter's introduction to her father-in-law. On the way back toVienna at the end of October they took advantage of the hospitability of Count Thun, who showed them greatkindness. Having no symphony with him, Mozart w rote a new work, which wasperformed on 4th November. Further recorded performances during the composer'slifetime took place in Vienna and in Salzburg the following year and in Praguein 1787, when he and his wife stayed with the Count in that city.
The so-called Linz Symphony
is scored for pairs of oboes,bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, with strings, and opens with a slowintroduction, followed by an Allegro into which the strings lead the way. Theslow movement, in which the trumpets and drums still have apart to play, is ina gently lilting rhythm, the mood broken by a bold Minuet and a contrastingTrio, with solo oboe and bassoon against a subdued string accompaniment. Abrief concluding figure, in the first part of the final movement serves itsturn in the central development section and the symphony ends in a suitablyfestive and cheerful mood, a reflection of Thun's hospitability.
Mozart completed his B flat majorSymphony, K. 319, in Salzburg on 9th July 1779. It was the secondsymphony to be written after the composer's return from Mannheim and Paris. Thework, suitable for a smaller orchestra than Salzburg boasted and thereforepracticable in Donaueschingen, where Mozart despatched a copy in 1786 at the requestof Sebastian Winter, once the Mozart family servant, is scored for pairs ofoboes, bassoons and horns, while the string section calls for two violas. It istraditionally supposed that the symphony was originally in three movements andthat a Minuet and Trio were added for performance in Vienna. The music showsMozart's powers of invention and subtlety in the use of the availableinstrumental resources. After an opening Allegro in triple metre there is an Eflat slow movement in which the strings have initial prominence. This isfollowed by a delightful Trio, by way of contrast and a finale of openingdynamic contrast.
Symphony No.27 in G major, K.199,a much slighter work, was completed in Salzburg in early April 1773, shortlyafter Mozart's return from Milan, where he had directed performances of hisopera Lucio Silla. It is thesecond of five written in the same year. Scored for two flutes instead ofoboes, two horns and strings, the three-movement symphony, largely reflectingItalian practice, opens with the expected bright Allegro, with the customarycontrasted second lyrical theme. Muted violins, with plucked viola, cello anddouble bass accompaniment, usher in the contrapuntal use of the opening firstviolin figure and its melodic second violin accompaniment.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in 1983 by members of the SlovakPhilharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamber orchestra and then as anorchestra large enough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Based inBratislava, its name drawn from the ancient name still preserved in theAcademia Istropolitana, the historic university established in the Slovak andone-time Hungarian capital by Matthias Corvinus, the orchestra works in therecording studio and undertakes frequent tours throughout Europe. Recordings bythe orchestra 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.
Barry Wordsworth's career has been dominated by his work for the RoyalBallet which started when he played the solo part in Frank Martin's HarpsichordConcerto. a score used by Sir Kenneth MacMillan for his ballet, Las Hermanas. In 1973 he became AssistantConductor of the Royal Ballet's Touring Orchestra and in 1974 PrincipalConductor of Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet. He made his debut at Covent Gardenconducting MacMillan's Manon in1975 and since then has conducted there frequently. He has toured extensivelywith the Royal Ballet, conducting orchestras in New Zealand, Hong Kong,Singapore, Korea, Canada and Australia, where he has been guest conductor forAustralian Ballet.
In 1987 while retaining his