Serenade Nr. 10 B-dur, KV 361 (370a) - 'Gran Partita'
Wiener Mozart-Blaser, Nikolaus Harnoncourt
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Mozart's Serenade or "Gran Partitta" K. 361 has no original title: the term "partitta" was not common at the end of the 18th century and was presumably coined shortly after the composer's death. The work was probably written at the beginning of 1784 in Vienna and intended for a benefit concert given by the clarinettist Anton Stadler on 23rd March 1784 in the Burgtheater.
Admittedly, the exceptional dimensions of the work and the almost symphonic air it breathes are only one side of the coin. The other side is that Mozart on the one hand does not sacrifice to such special features the serenade character, the element of playfulness and -on the highest level - the entertainment aspect of the genre, and on the other hand he explores to the full the potential of such rich and "colorful" instrumentation in inexhaustible variations of the timbres and the combinations of instruments, in a kind of musical soliloquy that gives the work a chamber-music undertone in addition to everything else. Characteristic instances of this undertone are details such as the chromatic nuances of the first motif in the development and particularly the coda of the first allegro, the first trio of the first minuet, the B flat minor variation of the penultimate movement and. above all. the center of the work, the E flat major adagio: the tonal sensuousness and magic found here have parallels at the most in some of the slow movements of the piano concerti. No less characteristic is the way the danger of monotony in the two minuets- which should be in the basic key of B flat major according to the "rules" - is banished by giving each of the four trios its own instrumentation and highly individual "sound" and also, as a counterweight to the unvaried B flat major of the main sections, its own key: E flat major and G minor in the first minuet, B flat minor and F major in the second. The unique qualities of this music, however, and the singular delicate balance of the whole work - in every breath "entertainment" and great art at the same time - cannot be conveyed by painstaking analysis, but by listening alone.
When the wind ensemble "Wiener Mozart-Blaser" was formed, the emphasis of the Viennese elements with the best possible players seemed to us ideal for an adequate interpretation of the Mozartian musical idiom according to the present concept. In this connection, we were less interested in membership of a particular orchestra than in a manner of playing at once stylistically homogeneous yet having soloistic tendencies. The sound of the typical Viennese wind ensemble today is determined chiefly by the oboes and horns, since the Viennese instruments differ very considerably from those used elsewhere. The outcome of these deliberations was an ensemble in which leading wind players from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra were supplemented by specialists experienced in chamber music, such as the sought-after basset horn duo Hans-Rudolf Stalder and Elmar Schmid. the Detmold horn professor Michael Holtzel (well-known for his familiarity with the Viennese horn) and Volker Altmann from the Vienna Philharmonic, who has a great deal of experience in the low horn register to his credit. In arranging the double-bass part we were concerned to arrive at a highly colourful complement to the wind ensemble, bringing the double-bass out of the background position it normally maintains. Klaus Stoll of the Berlin Philharmonic used a four-string bass built in 1610 by the Brescia master Paolo Maggini for the recording -the instrument comes from the collection of the famous virtuoso Domenico Dragonetti.
Translation: Clive Williams.