Marriage of Figaro Overture K.492

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)
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Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)

Performance date: 03/07/2009

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: circa 1781-2

Duration: 00:04:42

Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Large Mixed Ensemble

Instrumentation Other: 2 ob, 2 cl, 2bthn, 4hn, 4bn, db

Artists: Niek de Groot - [double bass]
Sarah Andrew - [bassoon]
Laurent Lefevre - [bassoon]
Fabian Borchers - [horn]
Sylvain Guillon - [horn]
Hervé Joulain - [horn]
Francois Lemoine - [basset horn]
Philippe Berrod - [basset horn]
Jerome Laferierre - [clarinet]
Romain Guyot - [clarinet]
Emma Schied - [oboe]
Nora Cismondi - [oboe]

Marriage of
Figaro Overture K.492
(arranged for winds)


Serenade No 10 in
B flat K 361 ‘Gran Partita’
[circa 1781-2]


composer for wind instruments has ever equalled Mozart’s instinctive knowledge
of each instrument’s individual character and none has left the player and the
listener a richer or more varied legacy. And of all these wonderful works the
Gran Partita is the greatest, the most ambitious and the most masterly. The
words of an early convert still ring true, A
master sat at every instrument-and oh, what an effect – magnificent and
grand….like the land of the blessed, the land of music
. The master at every
instrument is of course crucial and we owe much to the Imperial Royal Harmonie with the Stadler brothers on
the clarinets. And if you look through the catalogue at all those strange wind
combinations for basset horns, clarinets and bassoons and it becomes quite
clear that Mozart and the Stadlers and other colleagues whiled away many an
hour experimenting with the different instruments, just for the joy of the
great game itself.


His greatest
pleasure was music. If his wife wanted to give him a special surprise at a
family festivity, she would secretly arrange for a performance of a new church
composition by Michael or Joseph Haydn.
 This is from the Constanze authorised
biography, which may paint a slightly rosy picture. But the idea of secretly
arranged performances backs up the delicious idea that this wind serenade was
Mozart’s wedding present to his wife, which puts it on a par with Wagner’s
birthday present to Cosima at Triebschen nearly a hundred years later, the
equally incomparable Siegfried Idyll.


first movement opens with a spacious Largo introduction,
which sets the festive scene. The first and second subjects are inextricably
related and the overall mood is of celebration and wit, Mozart adored the
endless possibilities for the woodwinds with their vividly contrasting voices
to talk to each other freed from the overbearing tyranny of the strings. The
first Minuet contrasts firm and rather severe tuttis with gentle exchanges amongst individual pairs of
instruments. The first Trio features the clarinet family and the second is a
masterly piece in G minor.


A solemn Adagio
in E flat, it started simply enough, just a pulse in the lowest registers,
bassoons and basset horns, like a rusty squeezebox. It would have been comic
except for the slowness, which gave it instead a sort of serenity. And then
suddenly, high above it, sounded a single note on the oboe. It hung there unwavering,
piercing me through, till breath could hold it no longer, and a clarinet
withdrew it out of me, and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight it had me
trembling….What is this need in the sound? Forever unfulfillable yet fulfilling
him who hears it, utterly…It seemed to me I had heard a voice of God.


second Minuet is a light-hearted breezy affair again contrasting the full
ensemble with smaller groups. The first Trio begins very severely in the
unusual key of E flat minor but it soon develops a cheerier aspect. The second
Trio is a short, unassuming but wholly irresistible country dance. The Romanze opens in the same serene mood of
contemplation as the earlier Adagio,
where each glorious phrase floats seamlessly from one instrument to the next.
This opening is in ternary form leading to a cheery central section held
together by a rhythmic chatter from the bassoons. The return of the opening is
extended by a new singing coda over a strong bass.


theme with its six variations gives Mozart an opportunity to explore all the
different combinations of colour available to him. The theme is stated simply
and develops momentum as it progresses. The first three variations follow this
pattern, No.3 featuring the classic gurgling clarinet, No.4 explores the stark
key of B flat minor while No.5 (Adagio)
creates a texture of pure magic with clarinets and basset horns, surely the
opening of Heaven’s gate. The Variations end with suitable panache with an
obligato appearance for the double bass. The Serenade ends with a Rondo of unabashed exuberance, where
Mozart still finds space for more experiments with the endlessly fascinating
combinations at his disposal.