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Michael Nyman: Mozart 252

Nyman / Summers / Slater
Release Date: 05/27/2008 
Label:  Mn / Michael Nyman   Catalog #: 113  
Composer:  Michael Nyman
Performer:  Andrew SlaterHilary Summers
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This album was designed to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mozart in 2006, but it seemed more appropriate to miss the boat, by two years - hence the 252. It could equally have been Mozart 30, since it is 30 years since In Re Don Giovanni originally saw the light of day in 1977 in the very first Campiello Band concert, in the National Theatre foyer. The Campiello Band was born out of the onstage band used for my arrangements of 18th century gondoliers’ songs for Bill Bryden's production of Goldoni's ‘Il Campiell’, which opened the Olivier Theatre in October 1976 and was thus the father of the current Michael Nyman Band.

Two main bodies of Mozart-derived works are presented on Mozart 252; the soundtrack to Peter
Read more Greenaway's ‘Drowning by Numbers’ (1988), and songs and duets from ‘Letters. Riddles and Writs’, a TV film developed in 1991 with the director Jeremy Newson as part of BBC2's Not Mozart series, which marked the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death.

My “Mozart music” is best understood by reading Pwyll ap Sion's impressive analyses in his book The Music of Michael Nyman:Texts, Contexts and Intertexts (Ashgate, 2007). But, briefly the first Nyman/Mozart collaboration, In Re Don Giovanni effectively samples and remixes the first 16 bars the Catalogue Song from ‘Don Giovanni’, and Revising the Don (a Radio 3 commission for the 250th anniversary) is a lyrical and literal revisiting of In Re.

The ‘Drowning by Numbers’ score is derived, in accordance with Greenaway's strict instructions, entirely from the slow movement of the ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ for violin and viola: Trysting Fields simply 'lists', in order of occurrence and each repeated three times, all the “unprepared” dissonances, (appoggiaturas) from the Mozart piece, and at the end introduces the 8-chord E flat/C minor/A flat/B flat/C min/E flat/A flat/B flat 'rock 'n' roll' sequence which ends the exposition of the movement, and which, along with a kind of retrograde version, is heard throughout Sheep 'n' Tides, Wheelbarrow Walk, Fish Beach and Not Knowing the Ropes (so called because on the ‘Drowning’ soundtrack album it is erroneously called Knowing the Ropes!).

Wedding Tango is built out of a chord-by-chord alternation of both the minor key version (from the very end of the movement) and more familiar major key versions of the 8-chord sequence. Knowing the Ropes, like Trysting Fields is a musical list (though with more conscious structural organization) - this time of a wiggly semiquaver motif, which is threaded through the movement and ends with a grand statement of the theme that is accompanied by the 8-chord sequence in the Mozart original.

‘Letters, Riddles and Writs’ deals in general, through texts taken from Mozart’s letters and riddles (the writs have to do with my frequent theft of Mozart's music) with his relationship with his father (O my dear Papa, a remake of O Isis und Osiris from The Magic Flute), with his own mortality (I am an Unusual Thing, which uses the texts from one of the riddles that Mozart wrote and distributed in Vienna during the 1787 Carnival and is based entirely on extract from two of his Haydn quartets) and with his business acumen [Profit and Loss, modeled on In Re Don Giovanni)

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Works on This Recording

1.
In Re Don Giovanni by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 37 Secs. 
2.
Revisiting the Don by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
3.
Drowning by Numbers: Trysting Fields by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 7 Minutes 16 Secs. 
4.
Drowning by Numbers: Not Knowing the Ropes by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; England 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 
5.
Drowning by Numbers: Wedding Tango by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 46 Secs. 
6.
Drowning by Numbers: Wheelbarrow Walk by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 35 Secs. 
7.
Drowning by Numbers: Fish Beach by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
8.
Drowning by Numbers: Knowing the Ropes by Michael Nyman
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 6 Minutes 33 Secs. 
9.
Letters, Riddles and Writs: O my Dear Papa by Michael Nyman
Performer:  Andrew Slater (Bass Baritone), Hilary Summers (Alto)
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 27 Secs. 
10.
Letters, Riddles and Writs: I am an Unusual Thing by Michael Nyman
Performer:  Hilary Summers (Alto)
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 6 Minutes 21 Secs. 
11.
Letters, Riddles and Writs: Profit and Loss by Michael Nyman
Performer:  Andrew Slater (Bass Baritone), Hilary Summers (Alto)
Conductor:  Michael Nyman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Michael Nyman Band
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 5 Minutes 47 Secs. 

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