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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Mozart, Mozart (... and Mendelssohn)

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This month’s selection from the Podcast Vault bridges our January “Mad for Mendelssohn “ theme with “Double, Double:”, which is our theme for this month. All three works are concertos for two soloists, with a “double shot” of Mozart Double concertos.

But first, in order to cap off our Mendelssohn series, let’s look at the filler piece on this old podcast. In a recent post from my blog , I discussed that though we point to Mendelssohn’s three “mature” concertos (two for piano and one for violin), we must also remember that Mendelssohn composed no less than five concertos as a teenager, and it is from that phase that we owe this concerto for piano, violin and strings.

The sensitivity with which Mendelssohn balances two totally different instruments is the work of a master musician. He was not simply happy to give the orchestra a passive role of accompaniment, but provides it with passages of brilliance and considerable beauty. Also in the normal three movement layout, the central andante is unusual in giving both soloists quasi-cadenzas.

If we count Mozart’s sinfonia concertante for violin and viola, Amadeus has three double concertos in his catalog.

The Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C major, surprisingly is the only piece of music by Mozart that contains the harp. In the classical period, the harp was still in development, and was not considered a standard orchestral instrument. Therefore, harp and flute was considered an extremely unusual combination. Mozart wrote the concerto in April 1778, during his six-month sojourn in Paris.

It was commissioned by the Duc de Guînes, a flutist, and for his older daughter, Marie-Louise-Philippine, a harpist. Mozart stated in a letter to his father that he thought the duke played the flute "extremely well" and that Marie's playing of the harp was "magnifique". Mozart quite likely composed this work with the duke's and his daughter's musical abilities in mind.

The piece is essentially in the form of a Sinfonia Concertante, which was extremely popular in Paris at the time. Today, the concerto is often played in chamber ensembles, because it is technically challenging for both instrumentalists. It is also often played in orchestras to display the talents of harpists.

Among his many piano concertos, Mozart has two (nos. 7 and 10) that are for multiple keyboards; his triple concerto is, however, often performed in a two-piano reduction.

It is not known when Mozart completed his concerto for two pianos in E-flat major, researchers believe sometime between August 1775 and January 1777. The concerto departs from the usual solo piano concerto with the dialogue between the two pianos as they exchange musical ideas. Mozart divides up the more striking passages quite evenly between the two pianos. Also, the orchestra is rather more quiet than in Mozart's other piano concertos, leaving much of the music to the soloists.

Happy listening!

ITYWLTMT Podcast Montage # 71 – Double Play - Mozart & Mendelssohn
(Originally issued on Friday, September 14, 2012)

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Concerto In C Major for flute and harp, K. 299
Irina Grafnauer, flute/flûte
Maria Graf, harp
Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields
Sir Neville Mariner, conducting

Double Concerto in D Minor for Violin, Piano, and Orchestra (1823)
Martha Argerich, piano
Gidon Kremer, violin
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Concerto (no.10) in E-Flat Major, for 2 pianos, K. 365
Radu Lupu & Murray Perahia, pianos
English Chamber Orchestra

February 6 2014, "I Think You Will Love This Music Too" will feature a new podcast "Piano, Piano" at its Pod-O-Matic Channel . Read more on our blogs in English and in French.

Updated Feb-03-2015 at 11:29 by itywltmt

Classical Music , Recorded Music