Posts filed under Classical Period

Cricket - Mozart Flute Concertos

Our house is very divided at the moment as to whether Kevin Pietersen should or shouldn't be allowed back into the England cricket team.  Some feel that the offence he committed was treasonable and therefore a life ban should ensue and the others feel that the cricket team is heading for a major defeat without him.  This is clearly going to run and run.  Now that the General Election has been and gone maybe the decision should go to the country, after all we are the ones who have to sit, watch and groan as England attempt to win the Ashes again.

Mozart, the most gifted musician in all classical music claimed to hate the flute, whilst working on the flute concertos he wrote to his father "my mind gets easily dulled, as you know, when I'm supposed to write a lot for an instrument I can't stand"  It could be that he was bored because they were written during an unusually unproductive time in his life following an ill fated romance with Aloysia Weber.  Despite all this, Mozart's writing for the flute is particularly sensitive and effective especially when the instrument of the day was much simpler than their modern day equivalent and so notes could not be pitched so easily.

Emmanuel Pahud

Emmanuel Pahud

In 1777 the composer received a commission from a wealthy Dutch music lover that Mozart should write some flute concertos but he was told that the flute parts were to be kept simple.  The fee was 200 Gilden, however either because one of them was actually a re-hashed oboe concerto or the flute parts were too difficult, Mozart only received 96 gilden, which was somewhat the story of Mozart's life.  However the result was his glorious flute concertos in G major and D major.

Similarly the Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra in C major was a commission from a wealthy French patron and his daughter who intended to play it together.  As such it was very much written for the home rather than the stage.  However yet again the aristocrat never paid Mozart the full amount and it is thought that he and his daughter never even played the work.  It is a unique piece of music in that he was the only composer who wrote for this combination of instruments.  The harp was still in development during the classical period and was treated more as a plucked piano.  Now of course the work is a regular on the concert platform.  

Marie-Pierre Langlamet

Marie-Pierre Langlamet

On the recording I recommend the flute is played by Emmanuel Pahud and the harp by Marie-Pierre Langlamet.  Pahud has been the principal flautist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra since the age of 22.  Marie Pierre Langlamet is also a harpist for the Berlin Phil.  Both artists are world renowned soloists who regularly perform with the worlds leading orchestras.

Also on the recording is the beautiful Mozart Clarinet Concerto performed by the much celebrated German clarinettist Sabine Meyer who has performed with more than 300 orchestras worldwide. 
Listen to Emmanuel Pahud playing the 1st movement of Mozart Flute Concert in G major on YouTube     

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Posted on May 17, 2015 and filed under Classical Period.

We're off - Mozart Clarinet Concerto

Well I have got here.  This is my first blog and I feel rather pleased with myself that I can work the “back end” of the blogging website.  I am terrified of anything IT and so have secretly being putting this off.  My computer just needs to flicker and I am practically reaching for the valium.....one of the blissful things about working for EMI Classics was when there was a problem with the computer you just dialed IT and over they popped.  In fact over popped rather an adonis so a technical hitch could became quite a pleasurable experience.  Not so when you are on your own.

Luckily those clever people who designed the blogging website have made it reasonably user friendly for idiots like me, so after a few lessons we are off...

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It is very difficult to choose the first piece of music for this blog.  There are so many, infact thousands of amazing classical pieces, (all of which are easy on the ear), so it is difficult to know what to recommend as the first piece.  I think Mozart is always a good place as he wrote tune after tune. So I am going to recommend the Clarinet Concerto in A major, which is a gorgeous piece of music, you don’t have to know anything about Classical Music to just fall in love with this piece.  

This was the last piece of instrumental music that Mozart wrote but the first ever written for the Clarinet.  The concerto was completed in early October 1791 and received it’s first performance on October 16.  Infact this, and other later compositions all took their toll on Mozart’s health and seven weeks later he was dead.

Mozart originally wrote this for the Bassett Clarinet, which has much deeper tones and was invented by a friend of his called Anton Stadler, who was a virtuoso clarinettist.  The original score was lost and the version we hear nowadays was re-edited by Mozart’s publisher for the instrument we have now.

The Clarinet is the most sublime instrument (I should have played it but more on that another day).  It is an instrument so akin to the voice, the lower notes are warm and rich, the middle mellow and smoky and the top register is cool and bright.  As you can hear from that utterly beautiful slow movement, Mozart certainly knew how to bring the best out of the instrument.

The Concerto has the usual 3 movements.  The first begins with a wonderful free, happy melody and very soon Mozart takes advantage of the instruments agility with exciting leaps from high to low notes.  The second movement is undoubtedly one of Mozart’s most heavenly slow movements, he had an ability to mix sadness with beauty.  Finally the last movement is chirpy and comical, again Mozart takes advantage of the technical virtuosity of the Clarinettist.

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The recording I have chosen is by Emma Johnson, described by The Times as “Britain’s favourite clarinettist”.  She won the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1984 which launched her career which now sees her performing and recording with orchestras all round the world.  On this particular recording you are able to download just the Concerto although you can also have the option to download the Mozart Clarinet Quintet as well (but more on that another day).

You can listen to the Concerto on youtube

Download from  iTunes

But from Amazon

 

 

Posted on February 5, 2014 and filed under Classical Period.