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SANTA FE CHAMBER MUSIC FESTIVAL
- a CD of chamber music by WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
played by Festival artists ensembles
(a FanFaire CD GIVEAWAY)
The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival has put together a CD of some of Mozart's most delightful yet sublime chamber music played by ensembles of Festival artists—some of today's finest chamber musicians—and recorded live during the Festival's 2005 and 2006 seasons.
The selections are also some of Mozart's more familiar music, although less fastidious listeners may not necessarily be able to name the titles of the pieces off the top of their heads.
The CD (Koch International Classics label KIC-CD-7735) starts off with relatively early Mozart: "Serenade No. 10 for 13 Wind Instruments," also known as "Gran Partita"—a title of unknown authorship that was found handwritten on the autographed score. Actually a piece for 12 wind instruments and double bass, its date of creation cannot be exactly pinpointed, but the period is thought to range from 1781—when his opera Idomeneo premiered—to sometime in 1784 when the work was first performed.
As serenades go (or divertimentos as they are also called) the 7-movement, "Gran Partita" is Mozart-light, serenades being associated with evening entertainment (or Nachtmusik, as in the very popular Serenade No. 13 or "Eine kleine..."); but as everything created by Mozart goes, it is also Mozart-great, i.e., it is music both delightful and sublime.
CLICK on the LINKS below to listen to clips from the "Gran Partita" (48.25"):
Tr 1: Largo - Allegro molto
Tr 2: Menuetto
Tr 3: Adagio
Tr 4: Menuetto-Allegretto
Tr 5: Romanze-Adagio
Tr 6: Tema con variazioni - Andante
Tr 7: Rondo
Who would not be tempted to lilt to the courtly and graceful dance rhythms of the two Menuettos (Minuets), galop to the vibrant exuberance of the opening and final movements, or be moved by the soulful melody of the Adagios, exemplified by the oboe's soaring solo lines in the third movement, the Adagio that is thought to be the work's "crowning glory"?
It is hard to beat the playwright Peter Shaffer's description of this Adagio.
In his script for the award-winning movie "AMADEUS,"* he has
Antonio Salieri, the villainously portrayed Mozartian rival, proclaiming "upon
reading the score of the Adagio in helpless fascination. 'Extraordinary! On
the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse
- bassoons and basset horns - like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly - high
above it - an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet
took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition
by a performing monkey! This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing,
such unfulfillable longing, it had me trembling. It seemed to me that
I was hearing a voice of God.'" Such was the beauty and
depth of the Adagio, indeed, of the entire Serenade!
Performance is by a wind ensemble of the Festival's distinguished artists: Allan Vogel, Liang Wang (oboes); Michael Rusinek, Todd Levy (clarinets); James Moffitt, Michelle Campbell (bassett horns); Nancy Goeres, Benjamin Kamins (bassoons); Julie Landsman, Jennifer Montone, Bill Barnewitz, Christopher Dwyer (French horns); and Marji Danilow (double bass) under the baton of the youthful and dynamic ALAN GILBERT, the newly appointed Music Director of the New York Philharmonic who at the time of this performance was the Music Director of Santa Fe Opera (its first ever).
But there's more to the CD!
Two relatively brief but nonetheless masterful Adagios (CLICK LINKS to listen to clips)
that Mozart presumably composed primarily for the clarinet-like instrument known as the bassett horn then follow:
Tr 8: Adagio in F Major
(performed by: Marc Dubac, Kyle Knox (bassett horns) and Steven Dibner (bassoon)
Tr 9: Adagio in B-flat Major
(performed by: David Shifrin and Todd Levy (clarinets); , Marc Dubac, Kyle Knox, and James Moffitt (bassett horns)
These precede the last featured work—another Mozart-light masterpiece: the other-worldly 12-minute "Adagio and Rondo in C minor, K.617," composed for wind and string quartet AND glass harmonica1, which in this performance was traded for the equally effective keyboard glockenspiel2 played by composer and pianist MARC NEIKRUG who is also the Festival's versatile, multi-tasking Artistic Director.
Listen to a music clip, and let yourself be transported to heaven by Mozart's last chamber work, written less than seven months before his untimely death, the splendidly ethereal music that has moments of pathos a fitting finale to a CD that begins with a most endearing piece of early Mozart.
Tr 10: Adagio & Rondo in C minor
(also performed by Tara Helen O'Connor (flute); Allan Vogel (oboe), Steven Tenenbom (viola); Tomothy Eddy (cello)
1 Glass harmonica: A musical instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin, consisting of a set of wine glasses of varying sizes arranged in order to allow a musician to create melodies by touching moistened fingers to the rims of the rotating glasses.
Glockenspiel: Literally "playing
bells;" it is a musical instrument consisting of tuned metal bars, usually
made of steel, arranged in two rows like the black and white notes on a piano
keyboard. The bell-like sounds are produced by hitting the metal bars with mallets.
A keyboard glockenspiel is a mechanized version in which keys are pushed to
to activate little hammers that hit the steel bars.
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