Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Divertimento in E flat, K. 563, Duo in B flat, K. 424*.
Leopold String Trio (Marrianne Thorsen, violin*, Scott Dickinson, viola*, Kate Gould, violoncello)
Recorded Champs Hill (GB), 23-25.11.2000
HYPERION CDA67246 [67.27]


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Though Iíve read reams on the tragedy of Mozartís early death, I donít remember ever having heard or read the wish that he had written more than he did. I think this reflects, not the fact that we love him a little less than we say we do, but that we simply cannot cope with all his output as it is.

Take all those Divertimenti and Serenades. The aristocratic patrons of Mozart, Haydn and their lesser contemporaries expected to be able to boast to their guests that new music was on offer that evening and their musician-servants were expected to provide it. Not long ago I was writing about Spontiniís first opera and commenting that Italians went to the opera at the beginning of the 19th Century in the same spirit as a later age went to the cinema. Writing these divertimenti and the like was the 18th Century equivalent to composing jingles for TV commercials and Mozart, with his sublime facility, could churn them off better than any.

Except, of course, that Mozart never churned anything off. Supposing the Divertimento here was one of a mere dozen of his works to have survived. How we would wonder at it, analyse it. Every note of it would be famous, its adagio would be celebrated as one of the most divinely expressive pieces ever penned.

And, maybe, it would get performed with that burning conviction that tends to be reserved for the pinnacles of the repertoire. The Leopold String Trio are very, very good, no mistake about it, with the sweet goodness of good musician friends who gather late at night to enjoy making music for their own benefit, with no gallery to play to, no public to make their points to. Or like a group of well-behaved, civilised musicians playing in the corner of an aristocratic dining-room while their social betters wine and dine. (Though even the hostess herself might be imagined to pause as the trio to the second minuet enters, her fork halfway between her plate and her mouth, to remark that the music was very nice this evening; and perhaps again at the folk-like simplicity of the finaleís main theme). Itís all a question of oneís point of view, but mightnít they have been a little more outgoing, a little more intent on engaging their public rather than just playing to them? Still, they certainly respond to the great adagio.

The duo is one of two, thrown off (except, again, that it was no such thing) to help out Haydnís younger brother Michael who was too ill to get a commissioned set of six completed. Itís remarkable what sonority Mozart can get out of just two instruments. If you want to hear the disc straight through, I suggest programming this first.

Beautiful recording and detailed notes from Duncan Druce in English, French and German.

Christopher Howell


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