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Leopold MOZART (1719-1787)
Peasant Wedding [14:29]
Cassation ex G (with 'Toy Symphony') [16:44]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Fugue from Gallimathias musicum K.32 [3:32]
Twelve Variations in C on the French song "Ah, vous dirai-je maman" K.265 [14:23]
Symphony No.1 in E flat K.16 [10:24]
Tini Mathot (fortepiano)
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/Ton Koopman
rec. Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam, 2006

It is a well attested fact that classical music is a serious business where sprucely dressed ladies and gentlemen of the orchestra gather to impress their rich audiences with long and dull symphonies. Nothing lively ever happens, which is why nobody under 70 goes to concerts. Fortunately nobody told the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra that they should not be seen in public playing rattles, bird-callers, toy drums, hurdy-gurdies and bagpipes. Be warned, this CD is fun to listen to and very silly.

It is surprising that Leopold Mozart, well known slave-driver of his young son, should have indulged in such foolery, but here is the evidence. The Peasant Wedding is full of good tunes, as is the long misattributed Cassation ex G, parts of which were previously known as Haydn's Toy Symphony. There was demand for easy listening even in the 18th century and Leopold was not above using such additional colours as produced by the list of instruments above. Heleen van den Bos notes that, since court music making was not open to the public, there was a demand for compositions suitable for amateurs. Also included on this disc is Wolfgang Mozart's First Symphony, composed at the ripe old age of 9, and a set of variations he composed many years later as a newly-wed. This is based on a still well known French folk tune "Ah, vous dirai-je, maman", and displays how clever the young composer had become in the variation form. It is played on a period fortepiano from 1803, arguably a bit too recent for this 1781/2 work, but it sounds much more of the period than it would on a modern Steinway. A final chip from the workbench is Gallimathias musicum K.32, the manuscript of which was heavily marked by Leopold to correct the weaknesses of his eleven-year old son, who at least had the decency to exclude rattles and cuckoos from his youthful fugue.

A question might arise as to whether all this is worth actually listening to and indeed paying for. Ton Koopman writes a brief foreword for the unwary, noting that the orchestra had a lot of fun making the disc. It certainly sounds like it, and you should certainly buy it. Remember to dress correctly, this is classical music.

Dave Billinge



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