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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Sonata for Flute or Violin and Harpsichord in BbA, K.10 (1764) [9.40]
Sonata for Flute or Violin and Harpsichord in G, K.11 (1764) [8.14]
Sonata for Flute or Violin and Harpsichord in A, K.12 (1764) [8.45]
Sonata for Flute or Violin and Harpsichord in F, K.13 (1764) [11.55]
Sonata for Flute or Violin and Harpsichord in C, K.14 (1764) [8.55]
Sonata for Flute or Violin and Harpsichord in Bb, K.15 (1764) [8.10]
Piano Variations in D on a Menuet by M. Duport, K.573 (1789) [14.47]
Robert Stallman, flute; Kateřina EnglichovŠ, harp

Recorded in Church of the Good Shepherd, New York City, NY, USA, April 1998.
Recorded in 2.0 stereo at 20 Bit resolution.
Notes in English and Czech. Photos of artists and composer.
ARCO DIVA UP 0074-2 131 [71.22]


Surprisingly enough, these works were written in London by the eight year old Mozart and dedicated to Queen Charlotte. An engraved copy of them was presented to Her Majesty on January 18, 1765, eleven days before Mozartís ninth birthday. The very musical George III was in a lucid mood at this time, not yet having managed to misplace the North American colonies. He enjoyed setting musical challenges for Mozart, even hailing him in the street as an old buddy from his passing carriage. During the composition of these works, Mozart would "...sometimes run about the room with a stick between his legs by way of a horse." I think that even at 8 years old, Mozart when putting a stick between his legs was not thinking of a horse, but, be that as it may, he had astounded everyone he met in London by his amazing precocity in composition and (musical) performance. At this time he also met, and began his legendary friendship with, J. C. Bach, 20 years his senior.*

These sonatas are rarely performed or recorded by violin and piano although there was a recording for oboe(!) and piano. This is probably the first performance ever for flute and harp. Arrangement of these sonatas was not necessary, as the flute can play from violin music and the harp can play harpsichord music note for note. Although Mozart later in his life disdained the flute, it is difficult to take him too seriously on this point because his writing for flute is so affectionately idiomatic, as in these sonatas. One does not hear these works, here played on the flute, as necessarily intended for any other instrument.

The harp accompaniment is another matter. A harpsichord is much brighter, lighter, and more forward than the harp. A characteristic of virtually all of Mozartís ensemble music is that his counterpoint is conceived in the mould of a dialogue between persons. There is no sense of superior/inferior, master/servant, soloist/accompaniment except as may be occasioned by an opera plot. But here the harp is disadvantaged by the flute which is very forward and assertive, whereas the harp is softly textured and in the background, except on those rare occasions where the flute deliberately steps aside and the harpist pointedly emphasises the part. On the other hand, the modern harp is a large instrument with a powerful bass range, so in most places the harp provides a foundation bass line, a resonant harmonic universe, a sweet haze around the flute notes. It remained for Louis Spohr, in his time frequently spoken of as a latter-day Mozart, to write perfectly convincingly for flute and harp. And since both instruments are placed nearly dead centre in this recording, instead of the flute mostly in one channel and the harp mostly in the other, the listener cannot adjust this balance by turning up (or down) the "harp channel."

So while this is not a perfect exposition of the Mozart, it is a very enjoyable, very sensual presentation. Both artists are true virtuosi, constantly delighting us with exquisite tone, skilled turns, and graceful, effortless phrasing.

The Piano Variations are another matter, for here a distribution of notes between the instruments was required. And here Mozart had no reason not to write solo-versus-accompaniment style. As often with Mozart, the first variation or so is in the Baroque "doubles" format, but we quickly move on to the kind of organic variations style which constituted his sonata "development" technique. Here again, some of the variations might be more effective in the original version, but overall the effect is very musical and the virtuosity of the flute is shown in high relief, particularly in the original cadenza provided by the artist. The effect is not unlike the "Blumen" variations of Schubert, but more cheerful, naturally.

Harpist Englichová is a graduate of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and has played with most major American and Czech orchestras, also in Israel and Japan, and in 2000 was awarded the Chamber Music Association prize of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. She has made a number of recordings for Arco Diva.

*I believe, on almost no evidence, that also at this time he became acquainted with a barroom song "My Thing is My Own," sung to the tune of Liliburlero, which he used for a set of variations in a piano sonata in 1783.

Paul Shoemaker

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