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MOZART: Violin Concertos Nos. 3 and 5

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Violin Concerto No.3 in G Major, K. 216

Violin Concerto No.5 in A Major, K. 219

Adagio in E Major, K. 261

Rondo in C Major, K. 373

Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus and the subsequent film based onthe play presented an apparent paradox. For dramatic rather than historical purposesMozart was shown as a thoroughly unworthy vehicle for divine inspiration, as opposed tothe jealous old court composer Antonio Salieri, worthy but uninspired. The truth of thematter must be rather different. Mozart had been brought up to mix with a higher level ofsociety and to avoid too much contact with humble musicians, in this following the exampleof his father.

The five violin concertos that Mozart wrote in Salzburg in 1775might seem to offer a similar paradox, at least when they were performed by the violinistAntonio Brunetti, a man whom Mozart was later to describe as a disgrace to his profession,coarse and dirty. Brunetti, a Neapolitan by birth, had been appointed Hofmusikdirektor andHofkonzertmeister in Salzburg in 1776 and in the following year he succeeded Mozart asKonzertmeister, when the latter left the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg to seek hisfortune in Mannheim and Paris. In 1778 Brunetti had to marry Maria Judith Lipps, thesister-in-law of Michael Haydn, who had already born him a child. Mozart himself wasfastidious about the company he kept and he clearly regarded Brunetti as uncouth.

Nevertheless the exigencies of his profession found Brunetti providing tolerableperformances of the concertos. The first soloist, however, seems to have been Franz XaverKolb, a Salzburg musician and a competent enough violinist. We hear in passing of theseperformances by Kolb and by Brunetti in letters from Leopold Mozart to his son writtenduring the latter's absence in 1777 and 1778, letters that paint a clear enough picture ofthe kind of music-making there was to be had in Salzburg, and from Mozart's own letters,the vastly superior standards of Mannheim, and, given the exaggerations of French taste,of Paris.

By the age of nineteen Mozart encouraged by his father Leopoldhad become increasingly anxious that a place should be found for him in a moredistinguished position than Salzburg could ever offer. His dissatisfaction was to lead tohis attempt to find employment in Mannheim or in Paris, and finally, in 1781, to a breachwith his patron the Archbishop and to a final decade of precarious independence in Vienna.

Limited as it might have been, Salzburg, all the same, offeredsome opportunities. In 1775 the Archbishop commissioned a setting of a Metastasiolibretto, Il re pastore, for the official visit to the town of the Archduke MaximilianFranz in April. The violin concertos were written later in the year and as we have seenprovided at least a reminder of Mozart's achievement during his long absence.

The Concerto in G Major, K.

, shares the greater popularity of the last three of the series. The openingAllegro offers an orchestral exposition in which the principal themes are declared, thefirst of them having already appeared in Il re pastore.

The soloist repeats the principal theme and by means of new material leads to the secondsubject, both duly developed and re-established in the final section of the movement.

The Adagio is an assured example of Mozart's handling of thesolo violin cantilena, a finely sustained violin melody, to which the orchestra provides asubtle foil. This D Major slow movement is succeeded by a final rondo with a profusion ofvaried ideas in its contrasting episodes, which include a courtly dance and a less urbanefolk-dance before the final re-appearance of the principal theme.

The Concerto in A Major, K.

, opens, again, with the customary orchestral exposition, followedunexpectedly by an Adagio entry for the soloist, the first two notes poised perilouslyover an abyss of orchestral silence, before the murmur of the moving orchestralaccompaniment is heard. This is a prelude to the soloist's own version of the Allegro, andsubsequent development and recapitulation.

The slow movement allows the solo violin to repeat and completethe opening theme, while the middle section offers a contrast of theme and key. This isfollowed by a final movement in the speed, at least of a Minuet and in the form of arondo, one of its contrasting episodes an example of what passed for "Turkish"music in Austria in the late eighteenth century, a fashionable piece of exoticism.

The Adagio in E major

for violin and orchestra, K. 261, was completed in 1776 in Salzburg. It was intended forthe use of Antonio Brunetti, the court violinist, who had found the slow movement ofMozart's A major Violin Concerto tooartificial and had asked for a movement to replace it. Unlike the original slow movementof the concerto it is scored for flutes instead of oboes, with a pair of horns and thecustomary string section, and in itself offers music of considerable charm and invention.

Mozart's C major Rondo

for violin and orchestra, K. 373, was composed in Vienna and bears the date 2nd April1781. It was written for the Salzburg court violinist Brunetti during the course of thecomposer's visit to Vienna with other members of the archiepiscopal household, a visitduring the course of which he secured his own dismissal. Among matters that particularlyrankled with him at this time was the social ineptitude of Brunetti and the castratoCeccarelli, with whom he was bound to associate. The former found Vienna too grand forhim, whatever merits he may have had as a performer. Still worse was the behaviour of hispatron, who showed no satisfaction whatever in the new music that Mozart had provided forhim, compositions that included the new Rondo, and prevented him from making the most ofthe material opportunities that Vienna seemed to offer. The movement is scored for theusual oboes, horns and strings and is marked Allegretto grazioso. The soloist embarks onthe first theme at once and is later entrusted with the new material of the interveningepisodes, punctuated by the main theme, which returns to conclude the movement, as thesolo violin ascends to an unexpected top C.

Takako Nishizaki

Takako Nishizaki is one of Japan's finest violinists. Afterstudying with her father, Shinji Nishizaki, she became the first student of ShinichiSuzuki, the creator of the famous Suzuki Method of violin teaching for children.

Subsequently she went to Japan's famous Toho School of Music, and to the Juilliard Schoolin the United States, where she studied with Joseph Fuchs.

Takako Nishizaki is one of the most frequently recordedviolinists in the world today. She has recorded ten volumes of her complete Fritz KreislerEdition, many contemporary Chinese violin concertos, among them the Concerto by DuMing-xin, dedicated to her, and a growing number of rare, previously unrecorded violinconcertos, among them concertos by Spohr, Beriot, Cui, Respighi, Rubinstein and Joachim.

For Naxos she has recorded Vivaldi's Four Seasons,Mozart's Violin Concertos, Sonatas by Mozartand Beethoven and the Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Bruch and Brahms Concertos.

Stephen Gunzenhauser

The American conductor Stephen Gunzenhauser was educated in NewYork, continuing his studies at Oberlin, at the Salzburg Mozarteum, at the New EnglandConservatory and at Cologne State Conservatory .His
Item number 8550418
Barcode 4891030504189
Release date 01/01/2001
Category VIOLIN
Label Naxos Records
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Takako Nishizaki
Composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductors Stephen Gunzenhauser
Orchestras Capella Istropolitana
Producers Gunter Appenheimer
Martin Sauer
Disc: 1
Rondo, C major, K. 373
1 Allegro
2 II. Adagio
3 Rondeau: Allegro
4 Allegro aperto
5 Adagio
6 Tempo di menuetto
7 Adagio in E major, K. 261
8 Rondo in C major, K. 373
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