MOZART: Concerto for Flute and Harp / Sinfonia Concertante

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Concerto in C major for Flute & Harp,K. 299

Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat Major, K.


As a child prodigy Wolfgang AmadeusMozart had amazed Europe. Extended concert tours had taken him to the majorcities of Germany and France, and he had been entertained royally in London,where he wrote his first symphonies and met old Bach's youngest son, JohannChristian. Adolescence and early manhood proved much less successful, at leastin material terms. Leopold Mozart had nurtured in his son the highest hopes offame and honour, but the small court of the Archbishop of Salzburg, whereLeopold Mozart was employed for the greater part of his life asVice-Kapellmeister, could offer nothing commensurate with these great ambitions.

In 1777 Mozart's impatience with Salzburgand his and his father's natural ambitions, led him to leave home in an attemptto find a suitable position elsewhere. Father and son both sought leave ofabsence, but this was not granted. Instead, the Archbishop declared himselfhappy to be rid of both of them. Leopold Mozart chose the path of caution andretained his position, while Mozart set out accompanied by his mother. Theultimate goal of Mozart's journey was to be Paris, a city they reached by way ofMunich, Augsburg and, most important of all, Mannheim. The last of these placeswas still the home of one of the most famous orchestras in Europe, which haddeveloped under the guidance of Johann Stamitz during the middle years of theeighteenth century. The orchestra itself was an ensemble of virtuosi and Mozartnaturally hoped for some position there, at the court of the Elector ofBavaria. Winter was spent in the city, where Mozart became particularlyfriendly with the flautist Wendling and dreamed up wild schemes of touringItaly with the sixteen-year-old singer Aloysia Weber, towards whom hisattentions were serious enough to cause intense alarm in Salzburg.

Mozart and his mother set out for Parison 14th March, 1778, and reached the French capital nine days later. As a childMozart had caused a sensation in Paris, as a young man, and a "stupidGerman" at that, he was far less interesting. Towards the end of June hismother fell ill, and on 3rd July she died. Her earlier letters to her husbandin Salzburg had seemed naively hopeful. Wolfgang had been commissioned by aduke to write two concertos, one for flute and one for harp, she wrote, soonafter their arrival, and her son was also employed to teach composition to theduke's daughter.

The concerto written for the Duc deGuines, an amateur flautist, and his harpist daughter, was the delightful Concertofor Flute and Harp, K. 299. Mozart, who had been enthusiastic about theperforming abilities of the duke and his daughter on first acquaintance, had,by July, become less satisfied. The duke had had the concerto for four months,he wrote to his father, and had still not paid. The result was furtherpractical advice from Leopold Mozart on the art of collecting money from slowpatrons without causing offence, an art that Mozart was slow to learn.

The Sinfonia Concertante in E flatmajor, K. 297b, seems to have been written in Paris in April 1778 for theMannheim musicians Wendling, Ramm and Ritter, flautist, oboist and bassoonist,and for the virtuoso horn-player Johann Stich, generally known by the Italiantranslation of his name as Punto. The opportunity was a splendid one. Le Gros,director of the Concert spirituel had asked for the work, expressly designedfor four of the leading wind-players of the time. Mozart wrote the piece insome haste but Le Gros procrastinated, the parts were not copied and excuseswere made, in spite of the enthusiasm and subsequent indignation of theproposed soloists.

In early July, in a letter breaking tohis father the news of his mother's death, Mozart remarks that the work has notyet been performed. In a letter written from Nancy on 3rd October, during hisreturn journey from Paris, he tells his father that he sold the SinfoniaConcertante to Le Gros, but can easily trick him by writing the whole workout again from memory when he reaches home. "I have it still fresh in myhead", he tells him. It would appear that the Sinfonia Concertante

as we have it, scored for oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, is the possible resultof this feat of memory, although it has been suggested that the arrangement isnot by Mozart at all, or, indeed, that the whole work is by another. Theselatter doubts seem unjustified by the obvious qualities of the music and theundoubted similarity to the style Mozart adopted to please Parisian audiences.

The Sinfonia Concertante is inthree movements, in each of which there are examples of that imitative writing,in which one instrument operatically answers and complements another, the finalmovement is in the form of a theme and ten variations, allowing splendidopportunities to the soloists individually and in conjunction and exploitingthe varying qualities of instrumental timbre in a remarkably telling way.

Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)

The Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra(Bratislava), the oldest symphonic ensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 atthe instance of Milos Ruppeldt and Oskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in thesphere of music. Ondrej Lenard was appointed its conductor in 1970and in1977itsconductor-in-chief. The orchestra has given successful concerts both athome and abroad, in West and East Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France,Spain, Italy, and Great Britain.

Richard Edlinger

The Austrian conductor Richard Edlingerwas born in Bregenz in 1958 and directed his first concert at the age ofseventeen. In 1982 he completed his studies in conducting and composition atthe Vienna Academy, having by then already acquired considerable professionalexperience on the podium. He was the youngest finalist in the 1983 GuidoCantelli Conductors' Competition at La Scala, Milan, and since 1986 he has beenArtistic Director of the Capella Istropolitana, an orchestra with which he hasundertaken various European tours. Richard Edlinger has made recent appearanceswith the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, the Zagreb Philharmonic, the George EnescuPhilharmonic, the orchestra of La Scala, Milan, and the RTSI Orchestra inLugano. In 1987 he was appointed Music Director of the Kamptal Festival inAustria.

Disc: 1
Sinfonia Concertante in E flat major, K. 297b, E f
1 Allegro
2 Andantino
3 Allegro
4 Allegro
5 Adagio
6 Andantino con Variazioni
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