For anyone following along wondering why there was no commentary yesterday, it was due to the death of Sir Neville Marriner, whose recording of Mozart’s Requiem I decided to listen to and share but not comment on.
A few words on the composition. I’ve listened to it twice since yesterday, and a few parts several times in isolation. One thing that strikes me about it is it blends so many disparate musical elements. The orchestra and the indivudal melodies of the soloists connect me most to the rest of Mozart’s works. Many of the choral sections, however, sound positively Baroque. I have sung now in several Mozart operas as a chorister, and the writing is very distinctive between the two genres. Here, the chorus is in all-out counterpoint mode at times.
The “Lacrimosa” is probably the movement you want to listen to if you want a quick “in”. It’s immediately gripping and original. And sad. And dramatic.
I was surprised the most, however, by the quieter moments. Moments such as the endings of the “Confutatis” and “Agnus Dei” caught me off guard.
However, forgive me at the poverty of my above comments. It’s a work I haven’t yet sung, and I haven’t sung his masses either. Although it’s not incredibly long, especially when compared to any of his operas, it’s so unusual in his output that it’s hard to grasp what I’m hearing. Even briefly diving into individual movements, I can see that there’s much more to absorb. I will definitely look to his masses in the coming days to provide more context.
Today, however, I’m listening to Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 27. Norman Lebrecht listed it as one of Sir Neville’s top recordings, so let’s give it a shot even if it does shoot me to the very end of Mozart’s piano concertos.
I’m listening to Sir Neville Marriner leading the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Alfred Brendel as the soloist.
Sorry. I can’t find a YouTube recording of this particular recording.
Piano Concerto no. 27 in B-flat K. 595
- Jaunty start.
- There’s something about this that feels very unusual, though it’s hard to put my finger on.
- The piano part is much more immediately virtuosic (within Mozart’s context, of course).
- Oh, I love the scales over the pizzicato.
- Lots of silences.
- Some very odd harmonies for Mozart. There’s a parallel harmony on a scale line with just the orchestra near the halfway point. So odd and cool.
- The move in and out of major and minor is often very abrupt.
- Funny grace notes and piano/orchestra imitation.
- Some very normal Mozart-isms here, but others are subverted. For example, some of his cadences are very normal for him, but others sound like they’re trying to deliberately catch you off guard. Likewise melodies. This is a late work, so I should expect that, but the manner of it is still surprising. Man. Now I’m sad that he died so young.
- I’m several minutes in, and it’s hard to describe. This movement feels very full and active for a second movement, but it’s very spacious. The main melody introduced by the pianist is very simply but somewhat triumphant sounding. When the orchestra takes it up it swells into the foreground.
- Some dramatic sounding suspensions.
- Yes, this string moment is beautiful. The lower voices play an active rising then descending phrase while the violins play melody fragments.
- Lots of variety here.
- Final movement in 6/8?
- Nice double reed moments.
- This movement swings.
- Once again, a musical novelty becomes a pervasive unifying idea. The “and 1 and 4” swing is ever-present.
- During the more orchestral moments with piano, I enjoy hearing the piano integrate more as a textural instrument. That’s true across Mozart’s piano concertos.
- Those piano accents made me think of jazz. Very surprising. (LATER: Ah, this is not in the sheet music. This was an added mid-movement cadenza.)
- AND he just brought back the main theme from the second movement?!
- The cadenzas in this recording are wild. I’ll have to check to see if their Mozart’s or not.
- Probably the most challenging sounding of the Mozart piano works that I’ve listened to thus far. Since I’m not much of a pianist, I can’t definitely judge that though.
I like this. A lot. There are many surprises here, and the music is very enjoyable in all sorts of ways. Some of the surprises are certainly due to the performers, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable or diminish the surprises Mozart builds in. Following along in the sheet music (which I normally don’t do for this project), you can see that the performers made many subtle and bold choices in their interpretation.
Until next time.