This is a collection of Eighteenth Century, post-baroque
"light" music. Barrow loads of such music were written in
the period, but since the music here is by Mozart it is in a quite different
league. Most of the contents of those barrows have been consigned to
oblivion but here we have music that is worthy of our full attention
even though it was written for occasions where people were probably
talking over it, hardly noticing it was there. The exception is the
Bassoon Concerto which may have been commissioned by an amateur
player, court musician or visiting virtuoso and performed in the salon
of a rich patron in concert conditions. My speculation. We do not know.
The other pieces on the disc, a serenade and a set
of three divertimenti, were, like cassations and nocturnes, no doubt
written as background music for some such event as an aristocratic summer
soirée. They are exceptional among Mozartís output of this type
of music in that they are for strings alone. Most of the other occasional
pieces were for mixed ensemble or for wind alone which would make them
more suitable for open air performance.
The odd one out, the Bassoon Concerto, written
when Mozart was eighteen, I described as "light" in the sense
that it is not in the same class as the great clarinet concerto and
is no more ambitious in scope than the Serenade. It is in the
easy galant style of the time, the influence of J C Bach, who
Mozart admired and had met in London, very evident. Yoshiyuki Nakanishi
negotiates the difficulties of the rondo finale with ease but most enjoyment
will be found in the beauties of the slow movement where the splendid
strings of the London Mozart Players impart just the right singing legato
to this quasi-operatic music.
The Serenadeís title of Eine Kleine
Nachtmusik, given by Mozart himself, suggests that the music must
have been written for a soirée. We know that it had a fifth movement
which is now lost so what we are left with is in effect a classic, four
movement string symphony with a first movement in text book sonata form
Ė years before the text books had codified such a thing. Jane Glover
and her superbly disciplined ensemble serve up as fine a performance
as one could wish for what is one of Mozartís most popular works. There
is a mixture of legato, springing joie de vivre and elegance
of phrasing that produces a delightful result.
It is a style that serves the youthful Divertimenti
very well. Again, nothing is known of their provenance except that they
were written in between trips to Italy and nicknamed "The Salzburg
Symphonies". In fact they are probably best thought of as light
string quartets in three movements. There is lovely music here and the
opening allegro of the first Divertimento is, in
my opinion, a masterpiece of its type and reminds one of that other
work of a sixteen year old genius, the first movement of Mendelssohnís
Octet, the finest evocation of youth ever written.
These performances from the mid-nineteen-eighties are
a delight, collected here by EMI into a "Classics for Pleasure"
disc that is a real bargain. The recorded sound is excellent.