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Franz Xavier MOZART (1791 - 1844)
Sechs Lieder (1809?) [9’38"]
Romanze: In der Vater Hallen ruhte Op.12 (1808) [8’14"]
Acht Deutsche Lieder (1810) [12’48"]
Standchen (1820?) [2’18"]
An Emma Op. 24 (1820) [3’30"]
Sechs Lieder Op.21 (1820) [12’52"]
Drei Deutsche Lieder Op.27 (1820) [9’59"]
Erinnerung (1829) [1’56"]
Barbara Bonney (soprano)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London 1–5 March 2005. DDD
DECCA 475 6936 [61’43"]


Now we have Barbara Bonney the music scholar, as well as one of our brightest young light soprano voices. Once again questing for unusual repertoire, Bonney has discovered a set of songs, which appear to be the total output of Mozart’s youngest son. Presumably his youngest, as Franz Xavier Mozart was born in his father’s final year, and genius that he was, I don’t believe that even Mozart could circumvent nature.

Bonney has now recorded this collection of songs by the young Mozart, and this music is so new, that as yet Franz Xavier Mozart has yet to have an entry in the RED listings. The dates of composition, although some are estimated, stretch from 1808 to 1829. Franz Xavier’s talent was obviously in his genes, so to speak, as he was only five months old when his father died, and would thus not have been able to learn from his father’s example.

He was taken in hand by his mother who was determined that the destitute Mozarts would take advantage of any help she could get for her young family. Franz Xavier was trained by Sigismund Neukomm (one of Haydn’s pupils), and Johann Nepomuk Hummel, gave the young boy piano lessons. He learned composition from Georg Joseph Vogler and Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, to say nothing of the singing lessons he had from Salieri. With teachers of this calibre, it is hardly surprising that the young Mozart was able to turn his hand to writing songs.

Later in his career, he was to play his father’s concerti in public, but like his father he died at a fairly early age. Like his brother he never married or had children and therefore the Mozart bloodline came to a permanent halt when the two brothers passed away.

The songs here are by their very nature fairly simple works and whilst there is little or no influence of his father in them, they are in the general style of early Schubert or Weber.

Fairly straightforward in form they have a disarming simplicity which obviously attracted Barbara Bonney. She says, in the booklet, that she loves these songs, and hearing them in this delectable new recording, one can be sure that this is the case. Malcolm Martineau, Bonney’s usual accompanist does sterling work making these songs sound much more than they are.

The recording quality is very high, and there is a lovely bloom with both piano and voice being reproduced in the acoustic of a small warm-sounding hall. There is not an ugly moment to be heard on this superb disc.

It is good to see, in this age of mediocrity and dumbing down, that some artists maintain their integrity. Bonney has been courageous enough to give us works that have little chance of being judged as masterpieces but nevertheless are of interest and are far from negligible.

John Phillips




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