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Mozart

 
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:08 am    Post subject: Mozart Reply with quote

It's time Wolfgang Amadeus got his own thread. (Because, hey, that's the ultimate honor for all dead classical dudes, especially ones with wigs...but I digress.)

Let's talk Mozart's symphonies. First of all, I like music that goes for the Big Statement, and for me no form in the classical realm epitomizes that ambition better than the symphony. (Some might argue opera is the ultimate musical Big Statement...but that's for another thread, heh.) Secondly, I think Beethoven and Mahler were the two greatest symphonists ever, because between them they exploded and expanded the symphonic form to create the most emotionally complex and powerful orchestral music I've ever heard.

However, in between the heroic heights of Beethoven and the tragic depths of Mahler there is a place for Mozart: his version of the symphony is a refreshing tonic after the storm and stress ("Sturm und Drang", heh) of Beethoven and the neurotic pathos of Mahler. Mozart wrote 40 or so symphonies, but really, who cares about the early ones? It's only the last handful that are discussed and performed with any regularity. His late symphonies are grand constructs in their own right, and I love them for their cool classical charm. The brutal struggle at the heart of Beethoven's and Mahler's music is inspiring, but so is the polished beauty of Mozart's. His 38th "Prague" Symphony is maybe my favorite of all his orchestral works, and it has such a positive, feel-good finale that it practically smiles at the listener. It seems to brush away the dust and cobwebs and all strife, and assert that life is good and worth living.

For the past week I've been listening to a new re-issue of Leonard Bernstein's recordings of Mozart's late symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic from the 1980's, re-packaged as a 3 CD set. It's good to see these recordings again, after being absent from the catalog for a while. Though the New York Philharmonic was Lenny's "home" orchestra, he had also developed a close rapport with the Vienna players during the 70's and 80's, and this warm relationship culminated in these great Mozart performances of his final years (and also great performances of Mahler's Fifth and Sixth symphonies).

Much of my exposure to classical music came via Leonard Bernstein's and Herbert von Karajan's recordings, so I often like to compare their styles of interpretation. The flamboyant American Jew and the reserved, autocratic German--how's that for a politically loaded picture? I'm a huge fan of both conductors, but in Mozart's symphonies, Lenny's a Stud, while, er, Herbie's a Dud. (Sorry, Herbie). While Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic are nearly unassailable in Beethoven's symphonies, in Mozart's symphonies it is Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic who rule. The epic, muscular power that Karajan and the Berliners bring to Beethoven is just too heavy-footed and overbearing for Mozart.

Bernstein and the Vienna players, on the other hand, bring a beautifully light touch and balletic grace to Mozart's symphonies, so the effortlessness of the music shines through. I also think these recordings by Bernstein and the VPO are superior to "authentic" period instrument renditions. Yes, it's fascinating to hear what an orchestra in Mozart's time would have sounded like, but as an emotional music-listening experience period performances often leave me cold. The sound of "authentic" instruments has amazing clarity, but it also tends to be so dry and thin that it sucks the life right out of the music. Bernstein and the VPO bring a warmth and affection to Mozart that is preferable to the harshness of period instruments, and to the lead-footedness of Karajan, while also being fleet and flexible enough to bring out the playful charm in his music. It probably helps, too, that Mozart's music is in Vienna's blood. Smile

Leonard Bernstein, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra / Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 25 & 29 and the Late Symphonies
Deutsche Grammaphon (Trio label) 474 349-2 (3 CD)

Highly recommended! Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not gaga over big statements in particular; any piece of absolute music from such music Gods as Mozart is usually a slice of heaven, for me. But anyway: Love Mozart. I'm of the view that his Requiem is his best work, but I also enjoy his late symphonies (especially 40). As far as Mozart conductors, Neville Marriner and Szell are my top two.

I intend on getting his Zauberflote, which is my favorite opera. I also intend on getting Le nozze di Figaro, perhaps my second favorite opera (I hate most opera, aside from Mozart's). I'm also on the lookout for the quartets he dedicated to Haydn.

I once considered getting Mozart's piano concertos, but then I heard Brahms and his Piano Concerto No. 2, which makes all other piano concertos obsolete, for me.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2005 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also love his Requiem, and his opera Don Giovanni. Smile Smile


My favorite of his symphonies would be #25, especially the first movement. Cool
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mozart is my fave of classical composers, followed by Beethoven and Shotztakovich (sp). Of all operas there are only two I can listen to from beginning to end, over and over: Mozart's Magic Flute and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (sp)
Mozart could be BIG or he could be subtle. and always there was much the ear could listen to. rarely was there one simple line of music going on is a piece.
Love it.
Of course I also love prog rock...
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usivius wrote:
Mozart is my fave of classical composers, followed by Beethoven and Shotztakovich (sp). Of all operas there are only two I can listen to from beginning to end, over and over: Mozart's Magic Flute and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana (sp)


I would rank Shostakovich among my favorite composers, too. He's certainly my favorite Russian composer. As a symphonist, I think Shostakovich is one of the greatest. I admit I haven't listened to every one of his 15 symphonies, but the ones I have heard are very, very good indeed. My favorite one so far remains No. 13 "Babi Yar" -- a grim, deeply ironic piece that is like a very dark satire of the Stalin regime. That's part of what gives this work its tremendous power: it's not a romantic depiction of fairy-tale Russia, like the music of a Tchaikovsky or a Rachmaninov, but rather a cold, stark commentary on the suffering and inhumanity inside WWII-era Soviet Russia.

And...there is a new recording of Orff's Carmina Burana by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic that got a positive review in Gramophone magazine. An excerpt:

Quote:
This rush-release is a composite of three performances in the last days of 2004. Rattle may not be an obvious choice for this work but he directs a fascinating account, electrifyingly played and sung, that--aided by some acutely balanced engineering--casts a keen light on the over-familiar, catching perhaps a hint of what it might have been like to hear it new in the 1930s.


Lord Foul wrote:
I once considered getting Mozart's piano concertos, but then I heard Brahms and his Piano Concerto No. 2, which makes all other piano concertos obsolete, for me.


For me, it was Beethoven's No. 5 "Emperor" that made me appreciate the piano concerto format, heh heh. Smile

So you and duchess love Mozart's Requiem, eh? Well, I'll try to give it a listen again once I find a copy somewhere. Have any of you heard Verdi's Requiem? I think it did more for me than Mozart's. But I really love Benjamin Britten's War Requiem--maybe my favorite requiem piece ever. Years ago Simon Rattle's recording of it with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra made a big impression on me.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my favorites from old Wolfgang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hJf4ZffkoI

[Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G Minor]
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mozart is one of my favorite composers. His later symphonies were precursors to what Beethoven would bring once he left Haydn. It was rather prophetic when Beethoven was told to "Seek the spirit of Mozart through the hands of Haydn " as these are the three we remember from the Classical Period (though many would put Beethoven as more of an Early Romantic from 1803 and the arrival of his Eroica Symphony).

I have sung many roles in Mozart Operas, from the big ones that have already been mentioned (Flute, Figaro, Giovanni), to lesser knows ones like Bastien und Bastienne (that he wrote at age 12!), La finta giardinera, Der Schauspieldirektor, and the non-PC Cosi fan tutte. Finta has an aria which included texts in German, Italian, English and French and is utterly delightful, poking fun of each locality's stereotypes.

There is something quite magical in his writing, as at times he places sweeping lines flowing over simple accompanimental patterns that would become the norm in the Bel Canto style of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini in the coming years. And his work with Da Ponte on Figaro was able to make the Count's plea for pardon in the Act IV finale a thing of beauty beyond compare. And yet, his Act II finale was a musical onslaught of French Farce capturing Beaumarchais' constant interruptions without missing a beat.

If you like his choral works, you should get to know his Et incarnatus es. It is simply exquisite.

One of the things that makes his symphonies such a great thing, is his penchant for breaking his Sonata Form Themes into smaller Parts. 8 bars of rhythmic theme one, followed by a lyrical 8 bar counter to it, then transitioning to Theme 2. Never boring or repetitive. And his solo themes in his piano concertos are simply amazing, and follow the sonata principle, returning in the recapitulation seamlessly.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DoctorGamgee wrote:
If you like his choral works, you should get to know his Et incarnatus es. It is simply exquisite.


I've finally gotten around to taking your advice on this, DoctorGamgee, and I thank you! It's got a quiet majesty about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJJT108WZ7o

[Mozart: Et incarnates est, conducted by Bernstein]
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