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Mozart: Gran Partita / Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Release Date: 01/10/2006 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 4775750   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Serenades: No. 10 in B?, K 361, ?Gran Partita?; No. 11 in E?, K 375 ? Orpheus CO Winds ? DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON B0005735-02 (74:57)

These works are part of a time-honored tradition known as Harmoniemusik , or music for winds. The genre became increasingly popular as a sophisticated form of dinner music in Vienna?s patrician households as the 18th-century progressed. Read more The court of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Joseph II was no exception and he formed his own Harmonie from musicians in the court?s opera orchestra. Among them were clarinetists Johannes Stadler and his brother, Anton, the latter being the inspiration for three of Mozart?s greatest works, the Trio for Clarinet, Viola, and Piano, K 498, the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, K 581, and the Clarinet Concerto, K 622.

The so-called ?Gran Partita? ? a title written across the work?s first page by a hand other than that of Mozart?was first performed in a four-movement version in a benefit concert for Stadler in 1784. The concert was announced in the Wienerblättchen , which described the serenade as ?a great wind piece of a very special kind.? Even though the parts used over two centuries ago by Stadler and his colleagues continued to be pressed into service as the source for various editions of the work, the autograph was sold by Mozart?s widow in 1799 and remained out of sight until 1922, when it was purchased by Jerome Stoneborough, an American physician living in Vienna. It is now housed in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

In its finished version the serenade is made up of seven movements, not the four first performed in 1784, and includes two minuets, an exquisite Adagio, a Romanza in A-B-A form, and a magnificent set of variations. Framing these movements are a salutatory movement of symphonic proportions and a concluding Rondo that will certainly set your foot a-tapping.

Although K 361 is generally referred to as being scored for 13 wind instruments, it is usually performed only by a dozen, with the bass line being reinforced by a violone that provides the necessary 16´ pitch. The other instruments include pairs of oboes, clarinets, basset horns?an instrument of which Mozart was particularly fond and would use in his Masonic music?bassoons, and four Inventionshörner , or hunting horns whose pitch could be altered by changing to a shorter or longer length of tubing in a position between the mouthpiece and the bell.

The second work on this DGG release actually exists in two versions: a sextet for clarinet, horns, and bassoons, and as an octet with two oboes added to the ensemble, the version normally heard in concerts and recordings. Mozart was especially fond of this piece and in a letter written to his father in November of 1781, he describes how, late in the evening of his name day, he was feted with the original sextet version: ?The gentlemen . . . surprised me, just as I was getting ready to undress, in the most pleasant fashion . . . with the first E? chord.? Although it is of considerably less weight and duration than K 361, K 375 is no mere trifle. It is a five-movement work (including two minuets) that is symphonic in concept and proportion and far in excess of the quality and character of light entertainment music that one would have heard in the homes of most of Vienna?s well-heeled families.

Characterized by taut ensemble and joie d? vivre , Orpheus endows this music with emotion, tenderness, and a natural feel for the genre, as well as an ardent sense of structural unity. There is no groveling to historical convention and, as a result, these clearly and cleanly textured sessions achieve the ultimate in musicality. As such, they reveal a thorough grasp of not only the printed page but also Mozart?s aesthetic sense.

As a quondam clarinetist, this is repertoire that I played on more than one occasion, and it is repertoire that I still treasure three decades after placing my matched Buffets aside, so I have several recordings of these works, but few can approach the heights scaled here by Orpheus. Their readings are close to, if not at the top of my list, so DGG should have no qualms about sending this one into the fray.

FANFARE: Michael Carter
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Works on This Recording

Serenade for Winds no 10 in B flat major, K 361 (370a) "Gran Partita" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781; Vienna, Austria 
Serenade for Winds no 11 in E flat major, K 375 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781; Vienna, Austria 

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