WAM at 250
The piano concerto and sonata is performed through a historical prism backwards. This is not Mozart played from the vantage point of Haydn but of Chopin. Horwitz is liberal with his pedal use and romantic arpeggios, practices the composer whould not have employed, but that is no matter. The listener should be forewarned that this is a Horowitz Recording first and a Mozart Recording second. Vladimir Horowitz is perhaps the last artist to embrace the romantic Lisztian ideal of the artist as hero, the concept invent by Italian violinist and violist Nicolo Paganini. On Horowitz Plays Mozart, we hear Mozart in the mind's ear of the 20th Century's greatest pianist.
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra no. 23 in A major - Clifford Curzon, London Symphony Orchestra, István Kertész, Decca Classic Sound M 452 888-2DCS
Piano Sonata In B Flat Major - Mitsuko Uchida, Philips CD 422 517-2PME5.
Schubert: Trout Quintet
WA Mozart: Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major (Eine kleine Nachtmusik), K. 525 (1786)
Franz Schubert: Quintet D 667 (Trout)
Hugo Wolf: Italian Serenade Takács Quartet(with Joseph Carver, Double Bass) Decca Records 460034, 1999
Mozart's most famous serenade, Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, is most commonly known as Eine kleine Nachtmusik. It is the tune the elderly Salieri tested the priest with in the movie Amadeus. It is a piece used in countless soundtracks, commercials, and muzak loops. I have chosen the Takács Quartet recording because it is performed by a string quintet rather than the traditional chamber orchestra most listeners are familiar with. The smaller the ensemble the fewer places to hide: hide mistakes, fluffed notes, slurred passages and the like. The canny Mozart prepared both chamber orchestra and string quartet scores for Eine kleine Nachtmusik. The Takács exercise a sprite and sharp performance of the serenade with a Spring bright allegro opening movement and equally bright but more powerfully sharp closing Rondo: allegro. The middle movements are tender and crystalline, illustrating the power of the smaller ensemble over the larger.
Mozart's serenade is juxtaposed with Franz Schubert's Trout Quintet and Hugo Wolf's Italian Serenade, offering the listener an interesting and informative view from Mozart into his musical future as the Classical Period gave way to the Romantic Period.
Serenade No 6, Serenata notturna, K239 -Serenade No 12, K388 /K384a - Serenade No 13, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K525, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Deutsche Grammophon 439 524-2GGA.
Le Nozze di Figaro
The Marriage of Figaro , K. 492. (1786)
Vienna Philharmonic, Claudio Abbado, Anna Caterina Antonacci, Carlo Allemano, Cecilia Bartoli, Franz Bartolomey, Lucio Gallo, Istvan Gati, Sylvia McNair Decca Records 460034, 1999
Mozart's Don Giovianni is considered by many the greatest opera ever written. It is a grandly majestic stroke on the part of Mozart. Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) is by far the most accessible of a very accessible corpus of operatic composition. Its overture is as ubiquitous in our culture as is the previously mentioned Eine kleine Nachtmusik. It is a story of comedy and intrigue involving a barber, his fiancé, nobility, and the greatest mezzo soprano trouser roll in all of opera, that of Cherubino, the horny court page and the reason I selected this particular performance. The roll of Cherubino is filled by Italian mezzo Cecilia Bartoli, a diva who has forged bold roads in the mezzo soprano well beyond Figaro. This is not her only performance of the roll on record either. She also recorded Figaro with Daniel Barenboim on Erato 45501, 1991. With Abbado, Miss Bartoli is coupled with the impelling Sylvia McNair as sparkling Suzanna. The thing here is Claudio Abbado is no Mozartean and his approach tends to the Romantic, with slower tempos in some arias and choruses. The performance in no way lacks gusto, however, and all soloists are robust and durable. It is Bartoli who shines and brings luminescence to the recording making this Cherubino worth the hearing.
Le Nozze di Figaro, Glyndebourne Festival Chorus; Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra, Vittorio Gui, Classics for Pleasure CD-CFPD4724.
Mozart - The Last 5 Symphonies
Symphony No. 41 Jupiter, K. 551 (1788)
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Sir Neville Marriner
Decca Records 460034, 1999