Today is the last day of this project. So let’s end it with something that is – theoretically at least – light. A divertimento should be diverting, no?
Divertimento in D Major K. 136
- Steady 8th note pulse in bass.
- Lots of imitative entrances.
- Kind of frenetic actually.
- Second violins get extended sixteenth note passage. Exhausting.
- There’s some passing of activity between first and second violins. The other two voices keep churning away at that pulse.
- Light hearted, yes, but not easy.
- More equal activity in all voices.
- Still energetic. Just slower. But there’s a lot happening.
- Mozart did like his hovering sustained high tones.
- Lots of parallel (two and three voices) activity, and as usual with Mozart it’s very attractive.
- Beautiful piece.
- Ah, the eighth note pulse is back.
- Wow, the three-voiced parallel harmonies from the second movement are also here, but they’ve picked up the tempo. It’s a very thick melodic sound whenever it’s used.
- Extended imitative section. A fugue-ish resemblance, but I don’t think it’s a full on fugue.
- Short and sweet.
I thought about doing a “big” final listen, but life got in the way. And honestly, I’m glad I didn’t. I live in a world of “big” Mozart, and any of us who spend most of our time in the opera world will also mostly know Mozart by his great operas.
But what’s been so revealing about this project is how he could scale from big to small. I had some inkling of that, but it’s been hammered into me throughout this past month. This piece is an example. It’s written for string orchestra, but it can also be played as a quartet:
It works, right? So much of Mozart’s music is a celebration of what makes an individual instrument great. A single hovering pitch played by an instrument gives us some time to appreciate how lovely and different that particular pitch can sound. Or a group of similar instruments. And those instruments move together and each occupy a slot meant just for them. There’s rarely extraneous players in a Mozart piece regardless of orchestra size.
Which is also what makes playing Mozart so difficult. Our bare musicianship is exposed without anywhere to hide. That’s true for singers, and it’s true for instrumentalists. We must ask ourselves, are we good enough to perform this music? We might be good enough to sound the notes in the proper rhythm, but can we reveal the celebration of the instrument of music of life that is at the center of the composition? Can we work for years perfecting our craft in order to make something sound fun or even funny even though it’s outrageously demanding? Can we express sadness or beauty or love without overt sentimentality or without resorting to non-musical choices? That’s harder, and it requires a shift in how we judge ourselves and the world around us and the values with which we go about our lives.
Anyway, it’s been a pleasure taking the time to explore this music. Obviously, there’s a lot more music to listen to, so my journey needn’t necessarily stop here. And I believe my bias when I began this project was basically correct. Mozart is worth it.