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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 11 & No. 13 (Composer’s version for Piano and String Quartet)

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  • Artist(s): Piero Barbareschi, Trio Hegel
  • Composer(s): Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • EAN Code: 7.46160911663
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Piano, String Quartet
  • Period: Classical
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Sound Engineer: Alessandro Cardinale, Gabriele Zanetti
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Description

“Recently the famous Herr Ritter Mozart gave a musical academy here to his own benefit in the Nationaltheater, in which all pieces were of his own composition, which are in any case so beloved. The academy was honoured by an extraordinarily strong reception, and the 2 new concertos and the additional fantasies that Herr Mozart played on the fortepiano were greeted with the greatest applause. Our monarch, who contrary to his custom honoured the entire academy with his presence, and the entire public gave him [Mozart] unanimous applause, the like of which has not been seen here previously. The receipts were estimated to be 1600 gulden”.

The review published by a contemporary newspaper is tantalizingly suggestive and yet elusive. Whereas we would like to know more about Mozart’s performance style, about the ensemble with which he played, about his extemporization of embellishments and cadenza, the reviewer details the income of the concert, provides us with some information about the audience (including its most prominent member, the Emperor) and with very little more information.
However, these concise statements, referring to a concert which took place in Vienna on March 23rd, 1783, are supplemented by Mozart’s letters to his father. Approximately ten days before the concert, Wolfgang wrote: “Yesterday my sister-in-law Lange gave her academy in the theatre, at which I also performed a concerto. The theatre was very full, and I was again received by the public here in such a lovely manner that it could only give me real pleasure. I had already exited, but the applause didn’t stop, and I had to repeat the rondo. It was a regular downpour. This is a good advertisement for my academy, which I’m giving on Sunday, 23 March”. These academies were concerts of quite a different style with respect to today’s recitals: numerous artists shared the stage, individual movements could be excerpted from composite works (such as symphonies or concertos), and there could be a mixture of styles and genres which our modern ears would deem rather disconcerting.
In comparison with some extreme examples of this kind, the programme of the soirée of March 23rd was consistent and homogeneous, as we gather from another letter sent by Wolfgang to Leopold, and it comprised the Piano Concerto KV 415, referred to by Mozart as “the 3rd of my subscription concertos”, and KV 175, complemented by Rondo KV 382.
The expression “subscription concertos” may sound in turn quite puzzling. Mozart had presented to the public his set of three concertos presently known as KV 413, 414 and 415; they could be purchased by the subscribers, who therefore contributed to their publication in print. This special destination partly explains their structure and character, which are markedly different from those of the large majority of Mozart’s Piano Concertos. In most cases, Mozart composed his Concertos for his own use; they aimed at displaying both his creative inventiveness and his skill as a virtuoso and expressive pianist. Interestingly, there is a rather strict correspondence between the periods of his career when he had no operatic commissions to work on and those which proved the most fecund for the creation of Concertos. This phenomenon has several possible explanations: certainly, the composition and performance of his Concertos worked as an advertisement for his compositional gifts, which could be noted by impresarios and theatre managers who might then invite him to write operas. Furthermore, most of Mozart’s Concertos were non-commissioned, spontaneous creations of the composer; here, he could be the protagonist of his own operas, and his piano could become an entire set of characters acting a wordless play on an exquisitely musical stage. Thus, his Concertos are very close to the world of opera under a variety of viewpoints: from the microstructures, such as the length and prosody of the musical phrases, mirroring the metre of the Italian verses of the librettos, to the genres (arias, duets, ensemble pieces, and even, occasionally, recitatives), to the types of characters (the primadonna, the buffo, the male lover etc.). His Concertos therefore became an opportunity for creatively channelling the frustration he felt when circumstances did not allow his creative genius to express itself on the operatic stage, which was Mozart’s ideal context.
Being the performer of his own works allowed Mozart also to extemporize, just as a skilled solo singer would have done; on several occasions, we realize that what is written on the score is just the skeleton of a much larger and more brilliant creation, whose actual shape sadly eludes us. Many of these typical traits of Mozart’s Concertos, however, are missing from the set of the “subscription Concertos”, which had been purposefully designed for publication.

The composer himself described their unique character to his father, in yet another letter dated December 28th, 1782: “These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which the connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why…. The golden mean of truth in all things is no longer either known or appreciated. In order to win applause one must write stuff which is so inane that a coachman could sing it, or so unintelligible that it pleases precisely because no sensible man can understand it”.
This concept of the “golden mean” is as far as it could be from the idea of mediocrity. It needed a genius who could inhabit the extremes of expressiveness, of pathos, of fun and comic vein to find this “golden mean” which did not renounce any of these – rather, managed to balance them all, in an almost miraculous combination. These Concertos did not “only” aim at enchanting or exciting the listeners who could hear Mozart play; they offered themselves on the market as musical experiences to be shared by other performers. To be sure, few subscribers could have Mozart’s technical skills or musical gifts, and the most complex technical passages he had devised or would devise in later years could not be imposed on amateur pianists, however proficient they could be (and some were equal to professionals in their musical accomplishment). Moreover, few of the potential purchaser of the scores had complete orchestras at their disposal; therefore, and rather shrewdly, Mozart clearly stated that they could be performed with the accompaniment of just a string quartet. They belonged, in short, to the atmosphere of the Hausmusizieren, the cultivated and refined pastime of the Viennese upper classes, the occasion for social gatherings and for spending time together in a joyful and artistically stimulating context. Here, too, the most extreme musical passions would have been out of place; therefore, also in their musical character there is overabundance of tenderness, lyrical themes, gentle humour and light irony, but the abysses of the later minor-key Concertos or the majesty of the later KV 503 or the earlier KV 271 are normally missing.
Notwithstanding this, the Concertos performed here, i.e. KV 413 and 415, are more exuberant and brilliant than their third brother, KV 414; the F-major Concerto opens with an energetic Allegro in triple time, full of vigour and buoyancy but including many and touching lyrical moments. The second movement is a typical example of the style galante, of which Mozart’s friend, Johann Christian Bach, was an acknowledged master (indeed, Bach’s influence is clearly discernible in all three Concertos of the set). The last movement is an interesting formal experiment, where the structure of the Rondo is superimposed onto the traits of the Menuet: even in the seeming simplicity of the result, there is an impressive level of refinement and compositional thought.
Unlike KV 414, KV 415 takes an entirely different shape when performed with orchestra or with string quartet, since the complete orchestration includes not only woodwinds as oboes and bassoons, but also French horns, trumpets and even timpani. This reveals its majestic concept, its underlying solemnity, which, curiously, does not get lost even in the chamber music version – it just assumes a deeply different shade. The first movement possibly reveals some tensions between the stately ideal and its actual realization; the balance between piano and orchestra is at times slightly awkward, without detracting to the overall beauty and charm of the result. The Andante is once more the lyrical oasis of the work, but is overshadowed by the Finale, an unforgettable creation of Mozart’s genius whose sparkling ideas flow effortlessly and beautifully.
The version for chamber ensemble, performed here, allows the listener to focus more closely on the tiny details of Mozart’s masterful writing, without being dazzled by the instrumental effects; the higher concentration of the musical material increases, rather than diminishes, the enchanting power of Mozart’s musical dialogues.

Liner Notes by Chiara Bertoglio

Listening Guide

by Piero Barbareschi

Piano Concerto No. 11 in F major
KV. 413 (K. 387a)

The first movement of KV 413, in F major, is an Allegro in triple time. This is an unusual choice as concerns the first movements of Mozart’s Concertos, and it is characterized by a serene climate and by the use of the keyboard instrument with frequent arpeggio passagework and quickly descending thirds. The Cadenza is original by Mozart. The second movement (a Larghetto in B-flat) is a classic and admirable example of Mozart’s capability to write highly poetical sections with an astonishing seeming easiness. The theme, immediately presented by the first and second violins accompanied by a discreet pizzicato, is then proposed again and elaborated through harmonic and rhythmical variations. It is supported by a simple and “trivial” Alberti bass, which however generates no feelings of monotony or repetitiveness. The last movement (a Tempo di Minuetto in F) actually lacks the pomp and circumstances of eighteenth-century Minuets, but is permeated in turn by a joyful energy and fluency.

Piano Concerto No. 13 in C major
KV. 415 (387b)

KV 415 begins with a military theme with dotted rhythms, which the strings propose in imitation; this creates a more important atmosphere with respect to the other Concerto. This thematic idea is not, in fact, the first theme proposed by the piano at its solo entrance, but appears again played by the strings only. A very pleasant surprise (but actually a rather frequent one in Mozart) is the apparition of a splendid second theme. Also in this Concerto, the Cadenza is original by Mozart. The composer had at first planned the second movement to be composed in the key of C-minor, but later he opted for a placid Andante in F and in triple time. The structure of the last movement is very interesting: this Allegro in C, in the time of 6/8, is structured in the form of a Rondo. Here, pastoral phrases are unexpectedly interrupted by slow sections (Adagio, 2/4) in C minor; they are exceedingly beautiful and inspired, and probably employ material Mozart had already written for the discarded second movement. The result is a movement alternating joyful and dancing passages to other which are melancholic and meditative; however, it closes with lightness and discretion, in pianissimo, after a last quick cascade of notes.

Artist(s)

Piero Barbareschi: born in La Spezia, he studied piano with Martha Del Vecchio and harpsichord with Anna Maria Pernafelli, having a diploma from the “Cherubini” conservatory in Firenze with the highest votes. Interested to different forms of expression and artistic collaboration, both with piano and harpsichord, he performs as a soloist but also in different chamber orchestras. He worked with prestigious soloists such as the violin players Felix Ayo, Cristiano Rossi, Franco Mezzena, Thomas Christian, Thomas Schrott, Mario Hossen, the flautists Mario Ancillotti and Mario Carbotta, the mezzo soprano Susanne Kelling, in the most important italian and foreign countries (France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and USA), as guest of important institutions and Festivals. His repertory goes from the '600 to the authors of the '900 and contemporaries, including first absolute performances. Founder member with Marcello Defant of the barocco ensemble “Officina de li Affetti”, he worked with a great number of orchestras such as Sammartini Orchestra of Milan, the Filarmonici of Torin, the chamber orchestra of Fiesole, the Virtuosi of Pargue. Salzburg Chamber Soloists, Orchester Konservatorium Bern, Jugendsinfonieorchester of Potsdam, the Filarmonici of Verona, Vox Aurae, International Orchestra of Italy, Interpreti Italiani, Wiener Kammer Orchester etc. with different directors: Rudolf Barshai, Giuseppe Garbarino, Lonnie Klein, Federico Maria Sardelli, Diego Fasolis. Member of the board for the ECYO selections, he also made recordings for the RAITV and for companies such as Brilliant Classics, Nuova Era, Dynamic and Musikstrasse, publishing, for this last company, a double CD with the full of the six Quintetti op. 56 of Luigi Boccherini, together with Quartetto Elisa ( first recording in Italy). He also made for the Tactus the first modern recording of two concerts for piano and strings orchestra of Simon Mayr. He recorded with Mario Hossen for the Da Vinci Classics label the integral of J.S.Bach's sonatas for violin and cembalo and Haendel sonatas for violin and cembalo. Registered to the list of journalists as a publicist, he works for the musical divulgation with guided audiences, conferences, articles and is a member of the editorial staff of www.gothicnetwork.org, italian artistic review portal.

Trio Hegel: Trio Hegel has performed on important occasions and in evocative places such: Sala Corelli of Dante Alighieri Theatre in Ravenna, Palazzo Albrizzi in Venice for the Dino Ciani Association, in Cremona in the Federico II Courtyard, at the Auditorium San Barnaba in Brescia for the GIA Association (Giovani Interpreti Associati), in Mantua for the Mantua Chamber Music Festival, at Concerts at the Shrine of St. Teresa of Riva (ME) for the Association of Friends of Music, in Padua for the Galilean Academy of Sciences, Arts and Literature and for the International Music Meeting 2016, in Brescia for Foundation Teatro Grande, in Gorizia for Association Chamber Music in Trieste and in Milan at the Pirelli Skyscraper Auditorium Gaber for the Concert Society and at “Casa Verdi” for Società del Quartetto.
Trio Hegel obtain in a short time, numerous awards such as: Overall 1st Prize at the 20th "G. Rospigliosi ", 1st Prize at the 26th European Music Competition "Città di Moncalieri", 2nd Prize at the 13th National Competition "Riviera Etrusca", 2nd Prize at the 10th International Competition "L. Zanuccoli ", 3rd Prize at the 12th National Music Competition "Città di Magliano Sabina", 3rd Prize at the 14th International Competition "Città di Padova", Honorary Diploma at the International Music Tournament (TIM - XVII Edition), Honorary Diploma at the 21st International Award "G. Zinetti", Honorary Diploma at the 20th International Chamber Music Competition "L. Nono". The collaboration with composer Mauro Montalbetti led them to the exclusive first performance of the piece "Six Bagatelles for String Trio" published by RAICOM, as well as the composition "E voi empi sospiri – Madrigal for String Trio" which was written for them, and they also performed live on Bergamo TV receiving acclaim from both public and critics. The artistic growth of Trio Hegel is strongly connected to the Quartetto di Cremona and Antonello Farulli; also fundamental were the meetings with Luca Simoncini (Nuovo Quartetto Italiano), Jürgen Kussmaul (L'Archibudelli), Andrea Repetto (Quartetto di Torino), Christophe Giovaninetti (Quartetto Ysaÿe), Danilo Rossi (Trio d’archi della Scala), and orchestra conductors Umberto Benedetti Michelangeli and Riccardo Muti. Trio Hegel has had numerous collaborations with important artists such as Alessadnro and Luca Simoncini (First Violin and Cello of Nuovo Quartetto Italiano), pianist Piero Barbareschi, flautist Tommaso Benciolini, actors Ivana Monti and Marco Baliani. At the request of the composer Carlo Boccadoro the Trio had the honour of performing his recent string trio several times. Trio Hegel has been selected for the project “Le Dimore del Quartetto” and has performed on tour in Italy, Switzerland and Finald. Trio Hegel has made a CD for the Tactus label of music by Tuscan composers Luigi Cherubini and Giuseppe Cambini (World Primiere Recording), an album exclusively dedicated to the compositions of Mauro Montalbetti for A Simple Lunch label and the complete string trios by Jean Sibelius and Max Reger for the Japanese label Da Vinci Classics. The review of Sibelius’s ‘Suite in A Major’ by Trio Hegel has been published for Da Vinci Publishing.

Composer(s)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: (b Salzburg, 27 Jan 1756; d Vienna, 5 Dec 1791). Austrian composer, son of Leopold Mozart. His style essentially represents a synthesis of many different elements, which coalesced in his Viennese years, from 1781 on, into an idiom now regarded as a peak of Viennese Classicism. The mature music, distinguished by its melodic beauty, its formal elegance and its richness of harmony and texture, is deeply coloured by Italian opera though also rooted in Austrian and south German instrumental traditions. Unlike Haydn, his senior by 24 years, and Beethoven, his junior by 15, he excelled in every medium current in his time. He may thus be regarded as the most universal composer in the history of Western music.

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