MOZART: Piano Duets, Vol. 1
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Born in Salzburg in 1756, WolfgangAmadeus Mozart was the younger surviving child of Leopold Mozart who, in thesame year, published his Violin School, a work that was to attract wideattention. By 1763 Leopold had been promoted to the position of deputy Kapellmeister atthe court of the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, whose service he had enteredtwenty years before as a violinist. By the 1760s, however, he had realised thepotential abilities of his two children and particularly of his son. He nowdevoted himself to his necessary duties and to the education of his children,virtually abandoning further composition. There followed a series of concerttours with Nannerl and Wolfgang, at first, in 1762, to Munich and then toVienna. The following year brought the most extended of these tours in journeysthat took the family to major cities in Southern Germany, to Brussels, Parisand eventually to London, before a slow return to Salzburg, which they reachedagain at the end of November 1766.
It was during the period of some eighteenmonths that the Mozarts spent in London that Wolfgang wrote his Sonata in Cmajor, K. 19d, which he seemingly performed with his sister at a concerton 13th May 1765 at Hickford's Great Room in Brewer Street, an event advertisedas 'For the benefit of Miss Mozart of Thirteen, and Master Mozart of EightYears of Age. Prodigies of Nature...With all the Overtures of this little Boy'sown composition ...Concerto on the Harpsichord by the little Composer and hisSister, each single and both together...' The sonata was apparently intendedfor a two-manual instrument by Burkat Shudi (Tschudi), since duet performanceon a single-manual instrument brings some conflict between the right hand ofthe player of the lower part and the left hand of the upper player. The Mozartchildren played on a Shudi harpsichord newly built for Frederick the Great andnot yet despatched to Potsdam. The first movement, inevitably derivative,follows convention in its opening Allegro with a repeated exposition anddevelopment, before the return of material in a final recapitulation. Thesecond movement is a Menuetto, with an F major Trio. The sonataends duly with a Rondo in which the necessary episodes of the formappear with clear definition. These culminate in a sudden pause, a brief Adagioand the final return of the principal theme.
The Sonata in D major, K. 381 waswritten in Salzburg in 1772, conjecturally dated to the beginning of that year.
Leopold Mozart and his son had returned in December from a second visit toItaly, where Wolfgang's dramatic serenata Ascanio in Alba had beenperformed, a commission from the Empress Maria Theresia for the marriage of herson, Archduke Ferdinand, governor of Milan. Their return to Salzburg coincidedwith the death of the Archbishop, who was to be replaced by a less indulgentpatron, although a further journey to Milan for a new opera for the court wasunavoidably permitted. In the course of the year Archbishop Hieronymus vonColloredo was elected and installed and Mozart himself was, in August, givenpaid employment as concert-master, a title that he had up to then held in nameonly.
The sonata, the work now of a maturecomposer, again has a repeated exposition, a brief development that exploresnew keys and a recapitulation that brings back the two contrasting themes,before development and recapitulation are repeated. The G major Andante, similarin form, marked by the ever-present Alberti bass, has a central section inwhich one player briefly imitates the other, before the return of the themesand coda. The final Allegro molto starts brightly and follows a similarpattern.
Mozart wrote a further duet sonata inSalzburg in spring 1774, but only returned to the form after he had settled inVienna. Dissatisfied with his position in Salzburg, he had unsuccessfullysought employment elsewhere. Eventually, after success with a new opera for theElector of Bavaria in Munich in 1781, he was summoned by his patron to Viennaand there quarrelled, abandoning his position at the Salzburg court and at thesame time losing the daily support of his father. In August 1786 he completedanother duet sonata and in November completed his Andante with FiveVariations in G major, K. 501. The first variation introducesrapider figuration, with a triplet accompaniment to the second and even rapiderfiguration for the third. The fourth variation is in G minor and the work endswith a final version of some brilliance.
The Sonata in C major, K. 521
was completed in Vienna on 29th May 1787, as it happened, the day after hisfather's death in Salzburg. The work was later dedicated to Babette andMarianne Natorp but Mozart had sent it first to his friend Gottfried vonJacquin for his sister Franziska, Mozart's pupil, with a warning of itsdifficulty. Babette Natorp later married von Jacquin's brother. Composed,therefore, in the year of the opera Don Giovanni, the sonata is a workof some stature. It opens with a forthright call to the listener's attentionand an exposition that shares the thematic material equably between the twoplayers, in piano writing that recalls the idiom of the great piano concertosof the period. The exposition is repeated, to be followed by an impressivedevelopment and recapitulation. The F major Andante has a more turbulentD minor central section before the ternary opening section restores serenity,capped by a short coda. The last movement, a rondo, starts with a principaltheme of restrained cheerfulness that acts as a foil to the varying drama ofthe intervening episodes, leading to a more extended coda.
In 1791 Mozart provided funeral music fora mechanical organ installed in a mausoleum in honour of Field Marshal BaronGideon Laudon, a hero of the recent Turkish wars, who had died in 1790. The newgallery was set up by Joseph Nepomuk Franz de Paula Graf Deym von Strzitez, whosome years earlier had opened, under the name of M??ller, an art gallery, with avariety of effigies, classical and modern. In addition to this, Mozart wroteother pieces for mechanical clocks, the work of the Esterhazy clock-maker,Pater Primitivus Niemecz, also, seemingly, for Count Deym. These include theimpressive Fantasia in F minor, K. 608, which bears the date 3rd March1791. This work subsequently became more widely known in a piano duet versionand exercised some influence over later composers in that form. It opens withall the grandeur of a Bach organ fantasia, leading to a four-voice fugue. Thereis a gentler A flat major Andante, before the stately music of theopening returns, now leading to a more elaborate double fugue.
The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jando has wona number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad, including first prize inthe 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the chamber musiccategory at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. He has recordedfor Naxos all the piano concertos and sonatas of Mozart. Other recordings forthe Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well asRachmaninov's Concerto No.2 and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven'scomplete piano sonatas.
Zsuzsa Kollar was born in Budapest in1959 and at the age of ten was accepted as a pupil at the Liszt Academy. In1974 she won first prize in the International Piano Competition for YoungMusicians in Usti nad Lahen, Czechoslovakia. Three years later she became apupil of Jeno Jando at the L