Michael Frith (organ) with Mine Dogantan Dack
Music of Mozart
a long and honourable tradition of transcribing orchestral
music for the organ, including the accompaniments of
large-scale choral works. However, there are very few
precedents for using the organ for the accompaniment of
apart from the pleasure it gives the performers,
presentation of concertos in this form makes it possible to
perform them in small venues, and electronic technology has
done a similar service for the piano: the electric piano is
not a poor substitute for a Steinway, and in any case
today’s concert grand pianos bear little resemblance to the
pianos that Mozart knew.
Piano Concerto No. 11 in F major, K.413.
– Larghetto – Tempo di Menuetto (Cadenzas by Mozart).
concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and
too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear,
and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here
and there from which connoisseurs alone can derive
satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way
that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though
without knowing why.’.
Mozart wrote from Vienna on 28th December, 1782,
to reassure his worried father that his headstrong son, who
had recently rushed into marriage, was certain of success in
his new freelance career in the Austrian capital. The three
concertos referred to reflect Mozart’s concern to appeal to
an unknown audience; he hoped that the nobility, recently
returned from the country for the ‘season’, would not only
flock to his subscription concerts and buy copies of the
concertos when they were published, but also produce many
pupils who would be his major source of income. Hence the
style, particularly of this first concerto of the set, marks
an apparent simplification after the new-found
sophistication of his last Salzburg concertos: the solo part
could be managed by an accomplished pupil, and the orchestra
has only a few optional wind instruments in addition to the
strings; it could therefore be played at home as a quintet.
The themes may be conventional in character, but the manner
of their working out and the subtle interplay of piano and
orchestra are unfailingly inventive.
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K.466
Allegro – Romanza – Allegro assai (Cadenzas by Beethoven).
No special pleading is
necessary for this concerto, completed in February, 1785.
Its proto-romanticism made it an immediate success and it
remained firmly in the standard repertoire throughout the
Nineteenth Century. Concertos in minor keys were not
altogether unprecedented in the Eighteenth Century, but they
were unusual in a genre normally associated with easy-going
entertainment, and the almost unremittingly intense mood of
tragic foreboding (which we should beware of equating with
Mozart’s own immediate emotions) is entirely new. The solo
part is technically demanding, there are constant surprises
in the dramatic dialogue between piano and orchestra, and
the woodwind and brass of the orchestra – here we lose much
in a transcription – have important parts, often totally
independent from the strings.
Throughout we are made aware of the theatrical side of
Mozart – the composer of supremely great operas. This is
particularly apparent at the end; a minor-key final movement
of a concerto was almost unheard of, and Mozart’s only
concession to the taste of his audience was a
comic-opera-like coda in which tragedy is suddenly averted
by an unforeseen, arbitrary twist of the plot: one can
almost see ensembles of happily reunited lovers swooning in
delight, the on-looking chorus interjecting with ecstatic
enthusiasm, while a cynical observer makes asides to the
audience in detached amusement