MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 6 - 10 (John Taylor/ Nicholas Ward/ Northern Chamber Orchestra) (Naxos: 8.550872)
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Symphony No.6 in F Major, K. 43
Symphony No.7 in D Major, K. 45
Symphony No.8 in D Major, K. 48
Symphony No.9 in C Major, K. 73
Symphony No.10 in G Major, K. 74
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of theviolinist and composer, Leopold Mozart, a musician employed by the rulingArchbishop, and a man of some intellectual ability. In childhood Mozart and hiselder sister Anna-Maria, known in the family as Nannerl to her brother's Wolferl,toured Europe as infant prodigies, received at court in the countries theyvisited and providing a general subject of curiosity and interest. Thechildren's education and musical training was supervised by their father, whowas quick to realise his son's genius and sacrificed his own career to fosterit.
As Mozart grew to manhood there was evident a disparity between his naturalexpectations and the realities of provincial Salzburg, where an indulgent patronhad been succeeded by an Archbishop very much less willing to allow members ofhis household to absent themselves for months or years on end. Leopold Mozarthad, perforce, to be content with his lot as Vice-Kapellmeister, but in 1777 hisson left Salzburg, accompanied only by his mother, to seek employment elsewhere,in Munich, Mannheim or Paris, where, in June, 1778, his mother died. Nowhere didthere seem to be a position available in any way equal to what Mozart saw as hisdesert, and early in 1779 he returned reluctantly to Salzburg, where he wasgiven a position once more, with equal reluctance, by the Archbishop.
The summer of 1780 brought a commission for an opera in Munich. Idomeneo,re di Creta, was staged there with some success in January, 1781. Therefollowed a summons from the Archbishop to attend him in Vienna and an uneasy fewmonths in which the young composer grew increasingly resentful, irked by hissubservient position and the refusal of his patron to allow him to earn moneyand honour by performing before the emperor. In May there was an open quarrel,resulting in Mozart's dismissal. For the remaining ten years of his life he wasto seek to earn a living in Vienna, independent of a patron, although he waslater to be given a relatively unimportant position at court.
The Vienna years, during which Leopold Mozart was no longer at hand tocontrol his son's wilder plans, brought initial success in the opera-house andin the public concerts Mozart gave. His marriage to an impecunious girl, whoseearlier acquaintance he had made in Mannheim, when he had courted her sister,did nothing to assist his career, and by the end of the decade he was oftendepressed by the financial difficulties of the course he had chosen. He died in1791, at a time when his fortunes seemed about to take a turn for the better.
Although he had been ignored by the new emperor, he had, nevertheless, fulfilleda coronation opera commission in Prague and was enjoying some popular successwith his new German opera The Magic Flute. The unfinished work he leftincluded a Requiem Mass, later completed by his pupil S??ssmayer.
During the second half of the century the orchestral symphony, derived inpart from the Italian operatic overture of earlier years, assumed increasingimportance. Its most common instrumentation, calling for pairs of oboes andFrench horns, with a four-part string section and possible keyboard continuo,suited very well the resources most often available in the musicalestablishments of ruling families and the nobility. The four-movement symphony,including a Minuet and Trio generally as its third movement,opened with an Allegro in the tripartite sonata or sonata-allegro form ofa two-subject exposition, development and recapitulation. A contrasting slowmovement in a related key was often in ternary form, a central section framed bya repeated opening section. The symphony might be expected to end in a form ofrondo, following the key-pattern expected in sonata-form and offering contrastedepisodes framed by a repetition of the principal theme.
Mozart's first attempts at the symphony were made during the fruitful andextended concert-tour undertaken between June 1763 and November 1766. Of thesethe first were written during the family's stay in London, followed by a furthersymphony written at The Hague, as the Mozarts made their way gradually homeagain.
The following year the Mozarts travelled, in September, to Vienna, with theintention, it may be supposed, of taking some part in the celebrations for thewedding of the Archduchess Maria Josepha, who was to marry King Ferdinand ofNaples. A month later the princess was dead, having contracted smallpox in anepidemic in Vienna that Leopold Mozart had attempted to avoid by taking refugeat Olm??tz, where Wolfgang was found to have caught the disease, from which hemade a rapid recovery, as did his sister Nannerl. In January they returned toVienna, where they remained for a year. It seems that Mozart's F majorSymphony, K. 43, was written during the autumn in Viennd or during the weeksspent in Moravia. It is scored for a pair of oboes, replaced by flutes in theslow movement, two horns and a five-part string orchestra calling for twoviolas, in addition to first and second violin, cello and double bass, the lastfrequently doubled by the bassoon in contemporary performance. The firstmovement opens with a subject based on the notes of the triad, a sufficient callto the listener's attention. The second subject is introduced by the strings inan exposition which is then repeated, before the central development based onthe first subject and a recapitulation that includes the second subject now inthe tonic key. The C major Andante makes use of a duet, Natus cadit,atque Deus, taken from the Latin Intermedium Apollo et Hyacinthus writtenin the spring of 1767 in Salzburg. It is followed by a Minuet, with acontrasting B flat major Trio for strings alone, and a last movement inthe form used for the opening movement of the symphony.
The Symphony in D major, K. 45, carries the date 16th January 1768 andwas written in Vienna, later to be used, in part, for the overture to Mozart'sopera La finta semplice, undertaken at the suggestion of the emperor, butnot performed, owing to various intrigues in Vienna, as Leopold Mozart explainedin a letter to his Salzburg landlord Lorenz Hagenauer. The symphony is scoredfor pairs of oboes and horns, a four-part string section and trumpets and drums.
Its three opening chords are followed by a softer but lively string figure andit is the strings that introduce the second subject. The exposition is notrepeated and there is a brief central section before the recapitulation andre-establishment of the original key. The G major Andante isentrusted to the strings alone, but the Minuet calls for the fullorchestra, framing a G major Trio for strings alone. The symphonyends with a rapid final movement that is dominated by the contrasted rhythmicfigures of its principal theme.
The autograph of Mozart's Symphony in D major, K. 48, is dated 13thDecember 1768. The long stay in Vienna had brought some disappointment. Lafinta semplice had not been performed and the Archbishop of Salzburg hadcontinued to express his impatience at the extended absence of his DeputyKapellmeister, whose salary had now been withheld. The family returned toSalzburg in January. The symphony again makes use of trumpets and drums, inaddition to the usual instrumentation. The princi