Our second Mozart Sonata is the duo for violin and viola that Mozart wrote to get an old family friend, Michael Haydn, out of trouble. During Mozart’s 1783 visit to Salzburg, the older composer had undertaken to provide a set of six violin/viola duos for the dreaded Archbishop Colloredo, but, owing to his fondness for the bottle, was unable to complete them. Mozart came to the rescue with his pair of duos, composed in Haydn’s style and in the appropriate keys for inclusion in the set, thus enabling Haydn to fulfil his commission and escape the Archbishop’s wrath. One wonders if the prelate noticed the deception, for Mozart was very much persona non grata at his court on account of his defection to Vienna.
Hidden Agendas is Brett Dean’s third string quartet. With individual movement titles such as Hubris, Self-censorship and On-message, it’s fair to say that this piece – with its five partially connected movements exhibiting strong extremes of energy, dynamics and expression – is a somewhat oblique, abstract look at certain aspects of the strangely fascinating and invariably unsettling political climate of extreme personalities, Twitter-outrage, group-think and other challenges to the democratic process in which we seem to find ourselves as we enter the 2020s. It was written for the Doric Quartet.
Rachmaninov wrote his passionate Cello Sonata on the crest of a wave inspired by the success of his Second Piano Concerto and his love for his cousin Natalia. In this great romantic sonata the full singing voice of the cello is quite wonderfully realised. And in the Andante Rachmaninov gives us one of the most tender melodies in romantic music, so bursting with love that the great theme from the Second Piano Concerto seems luke-warm in comparison.
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