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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Complete Serenades and Divertimentos
Mozart Edition Volume 22

Divertimento in D major KV 136
Divertimento in B flat major KV 137
Divertimento in F major KV 138
Divertimento in D major KV 334

Olga Nodel (violin)
Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim/Florian Heyerick
Recorded July 2002, St. Maria Church, Schwetzingen
Notturno for four orchestras in D major KV 286
Ein musikalischer Spass in F major KV 522 "Dorfmusikanten-Sextett"
Serenade in G major KV 525 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik"

Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim/Florian Heyerick
Recorded July 2002, St. Maria Church, Schwetzingen
Cassation in G major KV 63 (a)
Cassation in B flat Major KV 99 (a)
Divertimento in D major KV 251 (b)

a) Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim/Florian Heyerick (conductor)
b) Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum/Burkhard Glaetzner (conductor)
a) Recorded July 2002, St. Maria Church, Schwetzingen
b) Recorded 1989, Leipzig
Divertimento in D major KV 205
Divertimento in E flat major KV 113
Divertimento in D major KV 131

Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim/Jiri Malat
Recorded June 2002, St. Maria Church, Schwetzingen
Serenade in D major KV 100
Serenade in D major KV 204

Olga Nodel (violin)
Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim/Jiri Malat
Recorded June 2002, St. Maria Church, Schwetzingen
Lodron Night Music
Divertimento for 2 Horns, 2 Violins, Viola and Double Bass in F major KV 247
Divertimento for 2 Horns, 2 Violins, Viola and Double Bass in B flat major KV 287

Camerata Bern/Thomas Füri
Recorded 28-30 November 1989, Kirche Blumenstein, Thun, Switzerland
Serenata Notturna in D major KV 239 (a)
Posthorn Serenade in D major KV 320 (a)
Gallimatthias Musicum KV 32 (b)

(a) Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis
(b) Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra/Janos Rolla
(a) Recorded October 1986, Herkulessaal, Munich.
(b) Licensed from Hungaroton
Haffner Serenade in D major, KV 250

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sir Colin Davis
Recorded January 1988, Herkulessaal, Munich
Serenade in D major KV 185 (a)
Serenade in D major KV 203 (b)

(a) Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra/Janos Rolla
(b) Amati Chamber Orchestra/Gil Sharon
(a) Licensed from Hungaroton
(b) Recorded 1996, Kerkrade, The Netherlands
March in D major KV 62
March in D major KV 189 (KV 167b)
March in C Major KV 214
March in D major KV 215 (213b)
Marcia (no. 8) - (Idomeneo, KV 366)
Marcia (no. 14) - (Idomeneo, KV 366)
Marcia (no. 25) - (Idomeneo, KV 366)
March in D major KV 237 (189c)
March in F major KV 248
March in D major KV 249
Marcia (Finale) from Le Nozze di Figaro KV 492
March in D major KV 335 No. 1
March in D major KV 335 No. 2
March in C major KV 408 No. 1 (383 e)
March in C major KV 408 No. 2 (383 a)
March in C major KV 408 No. 3 (383 F)
March in D major KV 445 (320c)

Mozarteum Orchestra, Salzburg/Hans Graf
Recorded May, 1988, Messezentrum, Salzburg
Recorded 1986 - 2002
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99733 [10 CDs: 69.37+ 47.34+ 69.32+ 59.04+ 55.25+ 64.48+ 72.42+ 54.52+ 72.59+ 61.13]


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I was constantly surprised by the music on these discs. The majority of the pieces were written whilst Mozart was still at Salzburg in the service of the Archbishop. Though chafing under what he saw as an oppressive yoke, he still managed to produce this lovely music, surprising us with the inventiveness and beauty of his creations. And most of this music was written to be ignored. Much the space on these discs is taken up with occasional music, often written for outdoor performance. These pieces were designed for performance at Court or social functions when the audience would be busy with other matters and have only half an ear to the music. Did the social chit-chat and back-biting occasionally stop as the listeners heard a particularly felicitous phrase, or did they perceive it as aural wallpaper. The music was in fact appreciated in Salzburg and Mozart helped keep the music light-hearted by using folk-like themes and keeping the harmonies and forms simple. But Mozart managed to tread the fine line between simplification and interest. In fact many of these pieces are perfectly playable by amateur ensembles (I have played in quite a few myself), but they retain charm and interest for the musical connoisseurs.

The pieces variously have the names Serenade, Divertimento and Nocturne. Generally these names are interchangeable, though Divertimento probably indicated performance by a smaller group. And of course the famous 'Eine kleine Nacht Musik' is simply a nocturne in translation (Mozart's own catalogue does refer to it by its now famous name). A Serenade came with outdoor summer connotations. Frequently consisting of a flexible number of movements, Serenades often have a march-like introductory movement which could be repeated at the end. Divertimentos on the other hand, usually had the fixed sequence of four movements common to symphonies and quartets.

The bulk of the pieces on the first five discs is played by the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim. They are a small band playing, having as its core a group of 14 string players playing on modern instruments but with a period-inflected performance, vibrato is at a minimum and speeds are on the brisk side. They give admirably clear direct performances, whilst relishing Mozart's felicities en route. The strings have a rather lean sound which works well in this music. The band give the music its due but never try to inflate its importance. Whilst it would be pleasant to have some of the more sophisticated pieces played by a larger, more well upholstered band, I never felt short changed by these performances and will happily return to them. The remaining performances are shared between the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, the Amati Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Bern and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, with the Mozarteum Orchestra playing the Marches on the final disc. The first three of these ensembles all give perfectly acceptable, rather small-scale modern instrument performances with varying degrees of period inflection, but none quite manages to match the vitality of the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester. The three items played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra are in a different league. Colin Davis directs them in large-scale, unashamedly symphonic Mozart.

The first CD contains four Divertimentos all played by Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim, directed by Florian Heyerick. Heyerick is their new musical director, having taken over in 2002. The violin part in the Divertimento in D major KV 334, which was written in 1777, has a florid violin solo part which Mozart might have written for himself. Here the sweet toned soloist is Olga Nodel though she does sometimes sound a little frantic in the more florid parts.

The second CD, again played by Kurpfäzisches Kammerorchester, Mannheim, directed by Florian Heyerick, is more of a mixed bag. It mixes the 'Notturno for four orchestras' with the 'Musical Joke' and 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik'. The Notturno for four orchestras in D major KV 286 was composed a year after the Serenata Notturna. This winter serenade again uses antiphonal effects by dividing the orchestra into 4 groups, each consisting of 4 string parts and two horns. The surviving last movement is a rather short Minuet, leading experts to suspect that the real final movement has been lost. Unfortunately the musical material is not always truly interesting, perhaps because Mozart had to take care martialling his 4 orchestras. But with all its echo effects, I imagine that this must have been a rather amazing piece to have heard at the first performance.

The Musical Joke (Ein musikalischer Spass in F major KV 522 "Dorfmusikanten-Sextett") and 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik' (Serenade in G major KV 525) Both date from rather later in his career than the majority of the music on this record, both these works have nicknames which are taken from Mozart's own catalogue. We do not know for what occasions the works were written, though both were written in 1787 whilst he was writing 'Don Giovanni'. The 'Musical Joke' is written for a string quartet and two horns. Here Mozart is satirising the amateur composer who does not have complete control over his material. For me I am afraid the joke very quickly wears pretty thin. Perhaps Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester were also less than impressed as here they have a moments of untidiness of ensemble. But they give a clean unhackneyed performance of 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik'.

The third CD contains two Cassations (both played by the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester under Florian Heyerick) and another Divertimento played by the Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum under Burkhard Glatzner. The Cassation in G Major, K63 was written when Mozart was only thirteen. Known as 'FinalMusik' as it was written for the celebrations marking the end of the academic year at Salzburg's Benedictine University. It is in fact described as a Divertimento in Köchel's catalogue. In the Allegro second movement Heyerick's speeds get the better of the strings and there are moments of untidiness. But this is followed by a charmingly quirky Andante with pizzicato accompanimation. Both this and the Cassation in B flat Major KV 99 are multi-movement works which have a relaxed feel to them. The Divertimento in D major KV 251 is an altogether more sophisticated work. The Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum are a bigger group than the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester and they make a rather more well upholstered sound. Glatzner's speeds are still on the brisk side, but they are well judged and the orchestra respond well.

The fourth CD contains three more Divertimentos played by the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester, this time under Jiri Malat, their out-going musical director. The Divertimento in E flat Major KV 113 was written for Milan in 1771. This was the first time that Mozart used clarinets although later on he revised the piece, adding oboes, bassoons and cor anglais and enabling the clarinets to be omitted if necessary. The Divertimento in D major KV 131 was another of Mozart's experiments in scoring. It is written for strings with divided violas, flute, oboe, bassoon and four horns. These latter feature as a solo quartet in some movements and the original players were obviously very skilled musicians. Here the wind players of the Kurpfälzisches Kammerorchester relish the opportunities that Mozart gives them. In the introduction to the finale the seven wind instruments play without string accompaniments. Such works as this could act as a real experimental playground for Mozart and later on successful experiments such as this would be transferred to his more major works.

The fifth CD contains just two Serenades. The first one, the Serenade in D major KV 100 was written to follow the Cassation in G Major, KV 63. Both the Serenade and the Cassation are quite modest and have prominent passages for wind instruments. The main impression is of a long (the Serenade lasts 25 minutes) leisurely entertainment. The Serenade in D major KV 204 is an altogether different matter. It opens in a dramatic fashion and includes a concertante violin part which is substantial enough for the work to almost be a violin concerto. The violin is winningly played by Olga Nodel.

The sixth CD is devoted to the Lodron Night Music, the Divertimento in F major KV 247 and the Divertimento B flat major KV 287. These Divertimenti were written in 1776 and 1777 for the birthday of Countess Antonia Lodron. The Countess lived near the Mozarts and not only did Mozart play at the Lodron house, but he taught the children of the house. He dedicated several pieces to the family including the concerto for three pianos. These Divertimentos are played by the Camerata Bern, directed by Thomas Füri. Whilst the performances are perfectly acceptable, I felt that they did not really do justice to this fascinating music. The concertante violin part in the B flat major Divertimento is one that we know Mozart wrote for himself to play.

The first two Serenades on the 7th CD are played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Colin Davis. The Serenata Notturna in D major KV 239 was another of Mozart's experiments in scoring. Written in 1776 for New Year celebrations, it uses a solo quartet to produce a number of wonderful echo effects. Interestingly the bass line in the solo quartet uses a Double Bass rather then Violoncello and the work also includes a timpani part. Under Colin Davis the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra give a big-boned, big band version of the work with no period inflections and rather steady speeds. Their version of the Posthorn Serenade is in a similar vein, giving a symphonic interpretation of what Mozart probably regarded as a chamber work. This is another 'Finalmusik', written in 1779 after a journey to Mannheim and Paris. The work includes the famous 'Mannheim crescendo' and uses a big orchestra including oboes, bassoons, horns trumpets and timpani. In the trio of the Minuet there is a solo part for a corno di posta, hence the work’s nickname. This was most probably a joke, reminding students that term was over and they would soon be travelling home. The work also includes an Andante of unusual seriousness and intensity, given a rather slow, romantic reading by Davis. Ideally I would have liked a leaner sound and faster speeds, especially in the Serenata Notturna, but faced with such shapely and sophisticated music making, it seems churlish to complain.

The final item on this disc is a product of Mozart's childood. The Gallimatthias Musicum KV 32 was composed in 1766, written in the Hague to celebrate the installation of Willem V as Stathouder of the Dutch Republic. It is probable that Leopold Mozart had a hand in it. It is a noisy piece, a jolly medley of 18 movements all based on existing music. This is impressive work for a child, whether or not Mozart had help from his father. It is played here, in a rather heavy-handed manner, by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, under Janos Rolla. The name of the piece means musical nonsense, but unfortunately Rolla seems to lack the lightness of touch needed.

Disc eight contains just the Haffner Serenade in D major, KV 250, played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Colin Davis. Written in 1776 when Mozart was still in his teens, this Serenade contains another florid solo violin part. It is an unusual work, of significant size with a number of concertante parts. It was written for the wedding of the daughter of a well-to do Salzburg merchant, Sigmund Haffner. The bride’s brother commissioned the work and it was first played on a warm summer's evening in their garden. The serenade comprises a violin concerto and two minuets. Apart from the opening Allegro maestoso introduction the Serenade is generally carefree and sunny with an abundance of folk-like themes. Davis and the Bavarians give a fine interpretation in a big boned, symphonic manner. The concertante violin part is played stylishly by an unnamed soloist.

The ninth CD contains the final two serenades. The Serenade in D major KV 185 is a 'Finalmusik' but is rather more sophisticated than the Cassation in G Major KV 63. This was written in 1773. It has a richer sound with horns and trumpets and passages for solo violin. Played by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra under Janos Rolla, this represents a return to the smaller scale ensemble. The opening is rather over-emphatic but it soon settles down to a fine, if rather sedate performance. The Serenade in D major KV 203 is another 'Finalmusik' written in 1774. It is also know as the Colloredo Serenade in the mistaken belief that it was written for the festivities of the name day of Archbishop Colloredo. The Amati Chamber Orchestra give a perfectly acceptable performance, but there were moments in the long andante (6th movement), where Mozart reaches the artistic levels of his symphonies, when I would have liked a more sophisticated approach.

The final CD consists solely of marches - seventeen of them. The music comes from a variety of sources, including three marches from 'Idomeneo' and music from 'Le Nozze di Figaro' as well as items like the March KV 189 which was probably part of the Serenade in D Major KV 203. I am afraid that for me, this is a disc for completists only. The Mozarteum Orchestra is smallish but under Hans Graf, these performances lack variety and lightness of touch.

This set runs to an impressive 10 CDs and I probably would not recommend listening to it from beginning to end. Not all the performances are ideal, but as something to dip into and explore, it is highly recommendable. It may be that you have some of these pieces already. At super budget price you can afford to explore all of these fascinating pieces.

Robert Hugill



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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