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CD Spotlight September 2017: A Viennese Quartet Party

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A Viennese Quartet Party

String Quartets by
Haydn, Mozart, Vanhal & Dittersdorf.

In 1784 to celebrate Paisiello in Vienna
Storace organized a special Quartet
Party with Haydn playing the 1st violin,
von Dittersdorf the 2nd violin,
Mozart the viola & Vanhal the cello.

The Revolutionary Drawing Room
Quartet
Omnibus Classics

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Interview July 2017: 10 Questions with P. Malan

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Petronel Malan: Official Sites
Petronel Malan Site: Petronel Malan
Petronel Malan: Petronel Malan (Hänssler Classic)
Petronel Malan: Petronel Malan (Blüthner Pianos)
Petronel Malan: Petronel Malan (Twitter)
Petronel Malan: Petronel Malan (Facebook)
Petronel Malan: Petronel Malan (YouTube)

Petronel Malan: CD Albums
Petronel Malan: Transfigured Mozart
Petronel Malan: Transfigured Beethoven
Petronel Malan: Transfigured Bach


1. In 2006 and in 2008 you produced two beautiful, interesting and critically acclaimed CD Albums on Mozart and Beethoven: Transfigured Mozart and Transfigured Beethoven. What can you tell us about the origin and the story of these two CD Albums?

The Transfigured Bach recording was given to me as a project and I practiced and recorded it.

I did not do the research for that album.

When Hänssler Classic suggested I record a second CD, I started researching all the music and options to continue with transcriptions – and I found all the scores for Transfigured Mozart.

It happened to fall on the 2006 anniversary for Mozart and we decided to release in time for the anniversary.

I have always loved transcriptions, so it was a natural idea to record this music and since I discovered so many world premiere recordings, that happened almost naturally also.

As I was researching the Mozart, I started saving scores for future projects. I have a huge database of scores now.

So for my last 4 recordings, I did all the research for each recording.

I still have many lesser-known scores saved for future use for other recording projects. People also give me rare scores after concerts. So many scores I just received as a gift from a stranger after a concert!

… It is almost funny the two things people bring me most after concerts: Vintage dresses from their grandmothers… and rare scores. I love both things so I am always happy when people give this to me!

Petronel Malan plays Glinka’s Transfigured Mozart.

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2. We know you have in your concert repertoire also piano works by Haydn. What’s your relation with the compositions for piano by Haydn?

I have always loved playing Haydn.

It falls well on the hand and I think there are some absolutely beautiful music available.

People always know about Mozart, but the average person sadly doesn’t always know about Haydn.

Then I make sure to tell them that Beethoven studied with Haydn a bit, since he wanted to study with Mozart but Mozart had died. And Schubert was a pallbearer at Beethoven’s funeral. They are all connected.

What an amazing time to be alive and think that they all, all those great composers, had met each other!

Petronel Malan plays Haydn’s Sonata in C major Hob XVI/50, Mvt. I
Petronel Malan plays Haydn’s Sonata in C major Hob XVI/50, Mvt. II & III

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3. You are an official Artist of the most famous Leipzig firm Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik GmbH, one of the Big Four. What can you tell us about the distinctive quality of this piano manufacturer. And why and how did you choose their pianos? And what’s your story of collaboration with Blüthner?

When I walked into Skywalker Studios (George Lucas’ estate in California) to record my first CD, there were 2 pianos to choose from.

There was one of the most beautiful Blüthner Model 1 pianos and also another piano – which was also quite beautiful, but it didn’t have the sound and colour of the Blüthner.

So, I chose the Blüthner for my recording.

It was almost by accident that this happened.

After my first recording was nominated for the Grammy awards, they made me an official Blüthner Artist.

I then recorded my next 4 recordings in Leipzig, so that I would have easier access to Blüthner pianos.

They supplied not only the pianos but also the technicians for every recording.

Pianists will know how very important this is! I was really spoiled – and very lucky.

By recording in Leipzig, I now had choices of up to 5 Blüthners before every recording session!!

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4. You regularly organize Piano Masterclasses. What’s your approach in teaching to your students?

I don’t organize the Master classes… they happen mostly in conjunction with my concerts.

Usually, after a concert, I teach classes for local students.

I do not teach on a regular basis since I am usually traveling for concerts, so I have these classes to teach younger students.

When I was a child, I always asked every pianist I heard if I could get a lesson, but they mostly could not fit lessons into their schedule… which disappointed me greatly as a child.

So I made a point of being available for younger students after my concerts.
I’ve met some wonderful young talents and they have kept in touch through the years.

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5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

For Mozart, it would have to be operas, but since I can’t sing at all and only listen to the operas, I’ll say the piano concerti… Absolute genius music.

For Haydn, probably string quartets, but again, I can’t play them so piano sonatas or variations?

I want to be able to play my favourite music myself, so it is hard to have something as my favourite when I can’t play it. That’s one of the reasons I love transcriptions so much – I can play almost everything and anything – even if it wasn’t written for me.

There are some exceptions, however: Second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony might be one example of something that doesn’t work on the piano… I have a few transcriptions of that movement but the solo piano doesn’t do it justice.

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6. Do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

No one specific comes to mind, but it is not something I am actively searching for.

For me, personally, I would say that great transcriptions based on music of this era would be something that I am always looking for.

I have fantastic friends who also collect lesser-known scores and we are always exchanging scores we find.

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7. Name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

Transcriptions of works from the 18th Century!

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8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

I usually read something about the composer as I am preparing for a recording project.

Before I recorded Transfigured Brahms, I read Jan Swafford’s book about Brahms. While I was researching and preparing for Transfigured Beethoven, I read The Last Master by John Suchet (@johnsuchet1 on Twitter!)…

I warn everybody before you read these books, that it will forever change how you view Beethoven not only as a musician, but also as a person.

I absolutely LOVED these books.

You will always look at Beethoven in a different way. The books are in 3 volumes and I hesitated starting volume 3, because I knew Beethoven was going to die and it made me quite sad. It is written as historic fiction – so the facts are always correct, but the conversations are made up.

I can not recommend these books enough to anyone working on Beethoven in depth.

Suchet writes with so much love and empathy about Beethoven, that it was only after reading these books that I truly realized Beethoven’s as a human being and not just as this historic figure who wrote great music.

Highly recommended.

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9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

I will always love Amadeus, but you have to be aware what is legend and what is fact.

I did not really like Immortal Beloved but I need to see it again perhaps. It has been years.

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10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

I try to visit composers’ graves whenever I travel.

Beethoven is easy because he is right next to Schubert and Brahms and Strauss in Vienna.

You can also visit one of the many places where Beethoven lived while he was in Vienna. I think in total he stayed in almost 40 different places because he was always having problems with his neighbours and landlords.

I visited Mozart’s houses in Salzburg.

I visited Bach’s grave in Leipzig and Chopin’s grave in Paris and Rachmaninoff’s in NY.

I went to Liszt’s apartment in Budapest and was allowed to play on his pianos.

I think these type of visits, are always good for how you view a certain composer.

And you can take them flowers and say thank you for enhancing our lives for the better!

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Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!

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Copyright © 2017 MozartCircle. All rights reserved.MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use

Review July 2017: Nancy Storace, muse de Mozart et de Haydn

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bkekcup Author: Emmanuelle Pesqué
Title: Nancy Storace, muse de Mozart et de Haydn
Publisher: Amazon
Year: 2017
Price: € 19.00
ISBN: 978-2-9560410-0-9
Link: www.amazon.fr
Official Site of the Book:
annselinanancystorace.blogspot.com
with additional online resources for this book
The Author: E. Pesqué works for the French Ministère de la Culture and for opera online Magazine ODB-opera.com.

This book Nancy Storace, muse de Mozart et de Haydn is the first product of a long and not easy documentary and archival research, lasted various years. The author of the book is entirely dedicated (and with great passion) to the world of opera (with important periods of activity for the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Emmanuelle Pesqué works for the French Ministère de la Culture and is one of the editors of the Internet Opera Magazine ODB-opera.com, and this since 2003) and has developed a major interest in the professional and human journey of the famous 18th century opera singer Nancy Storace, whose life vicissitudes are still, here and there, rather obscure and whose relationships with the great men and women of the 18th century London and Vienna have been, in the past, obfuscated by unsubstantiated speculations of various origin (even by the most revered and venerable Alfred Einstein) and by legends which can’t find any serious support in the primary sources nor in the archival material.

      The intent of this book and of its author is to cast a new light on this important opera singer (whose professional activity was behind and enlightened the work of the major composers of that Era, Mozart, Haydn, Salieri, Sarti and Martín y Soler), to add the results of the modern and the most recent musicological research in this field to the building of a new more accurate biography (see Link, Lorenz et alii) and to correct (where and when necessary) previous biographical attempts, like Anna… Susanna. Anna Storace, Mozart’s first Susanna: Her Life, Times and Family by G. Brace (London 1991).

CONTENTS
    A radical chronological approach.
    With Mozart in Vienna…
    … and with Haydn in London.
    The multitudes of the unknown minor composers.
    A generation of opera singers, who were also composers.
    From Fisher to Braham: the unpredictable trails of destiny.
    Which perspectives for the Historically Informed musical practice? Something to ponder.
    A reference book and the Internet on-line resources.

A radical chronological approach.
The perspective of matter treatment chosen by Pesqué for her book is that of a radical chronological approach, so that the stories and vicissitudes of Anna Selina Nancy Storace and of her brother Stephen and of the other characters around them can be perceived and evaluated in a diachronic context, where one can watch their lives unfold along their existence paths, while they are shaped by their artistic and professional decisions and choices and by the fundamental and intriguing encounters with various figures, many of them, in the end, emerging from the pages of the book as somehow real pivotal sidekick characters across the years, like the singers Rauzzini, Marchesi or Michael Kelly.
A long and laborious research through the pages of the many newspapers of that period (1765-1817) has enabled Pesqué to enrich her work and many valuable passages with the first-hand comments and descriptions of the facts of the world of Opera as they appeared in their original papers, when the events actually occurred: thus many extracts from La Gazzetta Universale, from The Times, from The British Press, from The Monthly Mirror, from The Literary Panorama and from many other newspapers make their appearance and illuminate various actions, concerts, soirées and fragments of life of Nancy Storace, that otherwise would be lost to the darkness of oblivion.
This chronological approach to the subject offers the reader many other advantages, first of all the curious and rather rare possibility of considering the evolution of a person’s life (Nancy Storace) as the gradual evolution of an individual within a systemic environment which lives and changes with that person. So the evolution of Nancy Storace as a person and as a professional singer makes its way across history, also through the many political upheavals of the nations (from the France of the Ancien Régime to the French Revolution and the Bonaparte family, being the brother of Napoleon, Jérôme, a personal friend of Braham, with Storace now trying to work in Paris with Marie Antoinette in 1787, then singing in England the lament on her assassination in 1793 and finally, firstly, singing for the Revolution in Paris in 1797 and then again in England commemorating the death of Nelson, the defeater of Napoleon, in November 1805), through the development of the public institutions (the history of the Vienna and London main Opera Theatres and the wars over the control of theatre productions and over the singers’ salaries and wages) and through the many changes of taste of the public in art and music and much more.

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With Mozart in Vienna…
Thanks to such particular structure, the admirers of Mozart’s works and the musicians devoted to Mozart will find in this book the possibility of looking at and considering well known episodes of the life of Mozart through a totally different point of view. So we may say that we have, on Mozart, an interesting change in the type of angle of visualization on a few events of his life (most of them occurred in Vienna between 1784 and 1786 for Le Nozze di Figaro, with Storace as an unforgettable first Susanna and then the concert of Les Adieux to Vienna with Mozart at the piano and Storace singing, on 23 February 1787, Ch’io mi scordi di te KV. 505, especially written by Mozart for her), a changed angle of visualization, which may really help in a better comprehension of certain passages of the life of Mozart.
Many figures, already well known because one finds them in Mozart’s biographies, make their appearance also here, but under a new light, since now they are people around Nancy Storace and, because of that, seen not in the light of Mozart, but in their everyday environmental context: the life and business of Opera Theatre from late 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century.
Therefore all this offers the reader an important glimpse at the real extra-long professional career of great opera singers like Venanzio Rauzzini, the famous castrato for whom Mozart wrote one of his masterpieces, the Exsultate, jubilate K. 165, the teacher of Nancy Storace, Michael Kelly and John Braham, the vocal coach and friend of Gertrud Mara, or the unforgettable Luigi Marchesi, the long time collaborator of Myslivecek, one of the teachers/friends of Mozart.
And the same must be said of the whole family Linley (the young Tommasino of Mozart’s biographies, Mozart met in Florence, his father Thomas the elder and especially the sister of Tommasino the singer Elizabeth Ann Linley Sheridan), with its profound connections with the Bath circles of culture and music and so with Rauzzini and the Storaces.
And the same must be said of many other famous Mozartian personages like the composers Sarti, Cherubini, Salieri, Paisiello, Cimarosa, Pleyel and especially Martín y Soler, Stephen Storace, Thomas Attwood, the singers Michael Kelly, Benucci, Bussani and the Mozartian poet par excellence Da Ponte, now depicted out of his Vienna environment (he was obliged to leave in 1791), trying to organize Opera Companies and new Opera dramas between Bruxelles and London with the possible help of the Storaces and then of Martín y Soler.
A special mention here goes to the episode of Mozart’s engagement for the London Italian Opera Theatre, the details of which are usually rather scarce in Mozart’s biographies. We learn now how a London consortium led by Robert Bray O’Reilly at the head of the Pantheon Opera Theatre and representing a group of high English aristocrats (the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Bedford, the Marquess of Salisbury), in 1790, tries to engage Nancy Storace for some new Italian Operas in London to be written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We know how Mozart, de facto, refused such proposals mainly to respect his 1787 agreement with the Vienna Imperial Court and also to avoid a direct rivalry in London with his friend Joseph Haydn, who was going to reach England for his famous First Tour (and probably Mozart was contacted also by Gallini and Salomon, before Haydn’s approval of the entire London project). However, the whole story of the destiny of the Pantheon Theatre led by O’Reilly, as recounted by Emmanuelle Pesqué, certainly casts some new and interesting light on the decisions of Mozart, and, after all (after the refusal of the proposals brought forward by the letter of O’Reilly of 26 October 1790, and after considering the total disaster, also financial, of the whole Pantheon Theatre Project in 1792), probably Mozart was right in refusing…

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… and with Haydn in London.
What has been said for Mozart on the change in the point of view, must be said also for Haydn, even though on a lesser scale, since the friendly relationship between Storace and Haydn in Vienna had a substantial minor professional involvement (i.e. fundamentally Il Ritorno di Tobia on 28 and 30 April 1784). A major professional relation between Storace and Haydn occurred, instead, during the First London Tour of Haydn, with the active participation of the soprano at the famous Salomon-Haydn Series of concerts and then at the Haydnian festivities for his Doctoral degree received from the University of Oxford (July 1791, see The Gentleman’s Magazine and The Morning Herald).

The multitudes of the unknown minor composers.
Another peculiar and notable result of this approach used by Pesqué is the re-surfacing of a multitude of unknown minor composers positioned, with their operas, within their correct historical context.
These minor composers, particularly in the 18th century, were, in reality, the fundamental backbone of the Theatre Houses both in continental Europe and in England and many famous singers of that period, like Storace, Kelly and Braham etc., in various occasions, owed them a lot: the success of their careers, especially at the beginning, a wide spread notoriety through vocal scores rapidly available and even odd opera pastiches, which the public liked very much and paid for.
We remember here Basili, Moneta, Nasolini, Nicolini, Gnecco, Mayr, Isola, Zingarelli, Bianchi, Mazzinghi, Reeve, Moorehead, Davy, Corri and many others, who now are just names, but who built, with their minor works, the theatrical good fortune and success of the great opera singers of the 18th and of the 19th century.

A generation of opera singers, who were also composers.
One aspect of the actual musical practice of the 18th century that may really impress both the scholars and the amateurs and the modern musicians and singers is the fairly good level of technical preparation in music composition, which characterized many opera singers of that Era.
One certainly remember the famous conversation between Michael Kelly and Mozart on this subject and how Mozart defined this particular category of composers, more or less, the melodists.
It is a fact that from the pages of this book, we discover how various opera singers, of the 18th century, like the great Rauzzini himself, were capable of composing music, writing arias, organizing an entire opera and treating the orchestration.
Not only the opera singer Michael Kelly was able to write music for himself and to compose entire operas, but, according to some source of that period, in 1796 he and his lifelong friend Nancy Storace managed to complete, in London, an entire opera left unfinished by the brother of Nancy, Stephen. So it seems that even Nancy Storace was a sufficiently good connoisseur of music composition and of its rules to help Michael Kelly in his work!
A particular situation was that of John Braham, who, through his entire life, mostly wrote by himself the music he was going to perform in public and left at least seven operas intentionally written for himself and for Nancy Storace (1802-1808), his mate in everyday life, but never his wife.
However it must be said that, in many occasions, such operas written by the melodists certainly enormously pleased the enthusiastic public and were a good bargain, in terms of money, but, on the other hand, showed clear signs of re-working and re-organizing music materials, ideas and fragments derived from great first-rate composers, like Mozart, Haydn, Paisiello, Sarti, etc. without openly declaring it… and sometimes even the newspapers of that period, usually vague on this subject, noticed that.
Along with the popular successes of these types of operas or opera-pastiches, the book by Pesqué well documents the incredibly slow path that led to the premieres of the most famous Mozart’s operas in England at the beginning of the 19th century. The first complete version of Le Nozze di Figaro (1786) premiered in London only in June 1812 after ten years from one of the first concerts there with fragments from Le Nozze di Figaro and Idomeneo (1802). And the years 1811 and 1812 are fundamental for a first wider diffusion of Mozart’s music in London, after so many years of concerts performing mostly only segments and re-worked and re-written pieces. In May 1811 we have the performance of Così Fan Tutte and in March 1812 La Clemenza di Tito (which premiered in 1806): so Mozart’s music in England is now finally well established in 1810s.

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From Fisher to Braham: the unpredictable trails of destiny.
A fundamental part of this book is dedicated to the two major male figures and love interests of Nancy Storace: John Abraham Fisher and John Braham.
The complicated and in many ways still mysterious affair and marriage with the violinist and composer John Abraham Fisher (Vienna, March 1784 and ended a few months later by personal act and will of the emperor Joseph II) is treated by Pesqué with the addition of new important updated information on the subject.
Behind this unhappy marriage, we may see even various possible mistakes made by Nancy Storace in her relationship with Fisher, mistakes which may have led her husband to the well known unacceptable behaviour, among them the suspect induced by her acts of an adulterine relation with the opera singer Benucci. Besides the possible real responsibilities of J.A.Fisher (ca. 40 years old) in ill-treating Nancy Storace (18 years old), the brother of the soprano, Stephen Storace, considered the marriage of his sister a «ridiculous marriage» (June 1785, while in conversation with Orsini-Rosenberg) and declared that his sister is a «testarda» (stubborn or even mulish) and that that caused the disaster in her marriage.
Thanks also to the results of the archival works carried on by notable scholars such as Dorothea Link and Michael Lorenz, Emmanuelle Pesqué has finally had the possibility of giving a new and detailed account on the birth and death of Josepha Fisher (b. 30 January 1785 – d.17 July 1785), putting an end to other various forms of speculations on this matter.
The importance of this period (1784-1785: the unhappy marriage and the death of her daughter) in the life of Nancy Storace is curiously determined not by the facts themselves, but by the incredible effects that such personal vicissitudes of Storace had on the life and on the artistic development of Mozart himself.
Mozart’s unfinished opera Lo sposo deluso K. 430 was especially designed by Mozart (between March and Autumn 1784) and by an unknown librettist to be performed by Nancy Storace (then called Fisher, i.e. Sig.ra fischer [sic! by Mozart], according to her new surname as married woman) as soprano. The most interesting thing about this otherwise still mysterious work is the title itself, which has certainly some connection with Gli sposi malcontenti by the composer Stephen Storace, brother of Nancy, an opera which premiered in Vienna on 1 June 1785 with Nancy as leading character. The opera written by Stephen Storace had an obvious open connection with the publicly notorious unhappy marriage of Nancy with Fisher in 1784, so one may wonder whether within the Vienna Imperial Court some manoeuvres were already underway in 1784 in order to have finally an Italian Opera composed by Mozart and that the possibility of covering up a budding Imperial Court scandal, such as the ill-fated marriage of Nancy, by spoofing it through a public comic opera might have been a good service to the emperor Joseph II and the Imperial Court.
Was it Da Ponte, who was manoeuvring in favour of Mozart?
We can’t say at the present state of the archival and documentary sources, however it is a fact that, curiously enough, in 1785 Mozart, even though he had not produced any Italian opera in Vienna yet and Le Nozze di Figaro had to premiere only in May 1786, was called to compose a brief Cantata written by Da Ponte himself in honour of Nancy Storace: Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia K. 477a. As is well known, this cantata (composed in collaboration with Salieri and a mysterious Cornetti and considered lost until November 2015, when the original score re-surfaced from the archives of Prague) was written by Da Ponte to celebrate the newly recovered health of Nancy Storace, who had to face, between June and September 1785, various personal dramatic moments, like the failure of her voice during a performance at Opera and the death of her daughter Josepha in July.
The long relation (both professional and sentimental) with the singer and composer John Braham is accurately treated in details from page 233 to 351, leading the reader into a kaleidoscopic world of those many personages, who, from the 1790s to 1820s, were the main characters of the theatre of the world: from Nelson to Lady Hamilton, from the English Royal family to Lord Byron, from the Bonaparte family and the French Revolution to J.M.W. Turner and John Ruskin, etc. Among the many intriguing episodes of this period a special mention must be made of two particularly interesting sections of Pesqué’s book: the European and Italian Tour of Nancy and Braham (1797-1801), which well reconstructs the panorama of Opera in France, in Italy and in Germany in the much troubled years of the French Revolution and of the first Napoleonic Wars and the intricate scandal of the affair of Braham with the wife of Henry Wright and the abandonment of Nancy Storace in 1816, a scandal which may have led, in the end, through an incredible twist of history, to a major role of the firm Jardine, Matheson & Co. in the First Opium War (1839-1842).

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Which perspectives for the Historically Informed musical practice? Something to ponder.
All those interested in the Historically Informed musical practice will find, in the narration and in the structure of this book, a fundamental motive of further reflection on what we consider philological or not in musical practice.
As Pesqué has largely demonstrated with her book, most of the success of these very well paid opera singers of 18th and 19th century was based, in reality, on versions of the operas, which, in many cases, had nothing to do with the original versions penned by the composers.
The rewriting of arias and sections of the operas and literally plenty of insertion numbers (i.e. arias etc.) written sometimes by another group of three or four different music composers, who had nothing to do with the first original composer, created an Opera Theatre business, regularly fed by operas which were, in reality, big pastiches, which sometimes retained, of the original concept of the first author, almost only the main title of the opera.
Hence, in conclusion, if in the 21th century we’d like to produce an Historically Informed reconstruction of an 18th century opera, which version we should consider really philological? The original one written by the first composer or the pastiche version with its great amount of insertion numbers, which was heartily welcomed by the audiences?
Certainly it’s something to ponder…
… and we are not touching here the delicate aspect of interpretation, since evidently, according to the original sources of that Era, in the 18th century there was a strong appeal towards a rather expressionist way of acting and performing (and it seems that part of the theatrical good fortune of Nancy Storace was also due to her special cheeky way of singing, dancing and, so to say, playing on the stage: what a magnificent Susanna!) and to what we may call, in modern terms, towards over-interpretation, whereas the modern music schools have a not always too acceptable interest rather in toned-down or even shabby interpretations (under-interpretation?), as if music may only mechanically exist, like an anonymous depersonalized entity (but beware of the famous ominous musicus mechanicus, as Mozart wrote in his letters!).

A reference book and the Internet on-line resources.
The book on Nancy Storace by Emmanuelle Pesqué is a book characterized by a beautiful and fluid readability. So, despite the accuracy and the many details, the book itself can be easily read as an intriguing novel.
Nonetheless, the Avant-propos, the first chapters of the book devoted to the origin of the family of Nancy Storace and to the flourishing music and entertainment business (e.g. the Pleasure Gardens) that this family manages to establish in London between 1740s and 1770s, the final chapters on the portraits of Nancy Storace and on Nancy Storace as a character of various fictional productions and the technical section at the end of book (the collection of rare images, the extremely detailed chronology of her theatrical career divided per seasons, the important collection of titles and synopses of extremely rare and now almost neglected English Operas written for Nancy Storace, the updated and extremely detailed bibliography and the discography) confer on the book by Pesqué also the status of an interesting and valuable Reference Book on the history of Opera Theatre between London and Vienna.
The Internet site run by the author of the book herself (annselinanancystorace.blogspot.com) further enrich the experience of this book with other updates and rare materials.

MozartCircle
S. & L.M. Jennarelli

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Interview May 2017: 10 Questions with P. McCreesh

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Paul McCreesh: Official Sites
Paul McCreesh Official Site: Paul McCreesh
Paul McCreesh Official Site: Gabrieli Consort & Players
Paul McCreesh: Deutsche Grammophon (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Gulbekian (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Paul McCreesh Twitter (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Gabrieli Consort & Players Facebook (Official)
Paul McCreesh: Gabrieli Consort & Players Facebook (Twitter)
Paul McCreesh: Winged Lion Records (Official)

Paul McCreesh: CD Haydn The Seasons 1801
Paul McCreesh: CD Haydn The Creation
Paul McCreesh: CD Mozart Great Mass in C Minor

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1. Your newly released CD Album, Haydn The Seasons 1801, has reached #3 in the Specialist Classical Chart in few days. A magnificent reward for a long work by you, started in 2011, in particular with the accurate revision of the original «bad and unsingable» English libretto, and completed in 2016 for the album recording. Moreover, for this recording of The Seasons you have also prepared a new performing edition of Haydn’s score, which recreates the Viennese large-scale performances of Haydn’s own time, and so your recording of The Seasons can be considered de facto a world premiere for this Oratorio, since it’s the first recording featuring such spectacular (yet philological) large-scale forces. Can you tell us about the most crucial phases of preparation of the recording of The Seasons and about your most interesting decisions?

Yes, I suppose this project could be summed up as a «labour of love». I think if there is a top 10 of neglected masterpieces The Seasons is definitely up there towards the top; I consciously wanted to try to rehabilitate this work, which I think is every bit as great as The Creation.

Whilst Haydn performed with both pieces with large and small ensembles, certainly his best known performances took place in Vienna and used quite impressive forces. The standard ensemble included triple winds and double, or sometimes triple, brass as well as a large body of strings. There’s something particularly spectacular in hearing Haydn’s music with such large forces, and in a highly dramatic and pictorial work such as The Seasons, the added contrasts really help lift the music off the page. Whilst both Christopher Hogwood and I have recorded The Creation in this way, as you say, I think this is probably the first performance of The Seasons given in this style.

The Seasons was published in both German and English and although the German version is entirely passable the original English text is often comically inept, and I think this is a large part of the reason why The Seasons is rarely given outside of the German speaking world. Following my revisions on the similarly awkward text of The Creation, there seemed a golden opportunity to recreate a new English version of The Seasons which would hopefully win new friends to in the English speaking world. The text is entirely in 19th Century style, but it’s created specifically to match Haydn’s brilliant music and to present the singers and the audience with a version that brings them close to the world of Thomson’s original poem. I have revised this translation many times over the last 5 or 6 years; it’s really like an enormous crossword puzzle, but I have to say – if I’m allowed to – that I’m quite pleased with the final result.

Haydn, The Seasons 1801, Official Clip

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2. In 2008 you recorded and released a new edition of Haydn’s The Creation (Archiv Produktion). In your opinion, what are the similarities and differences in the music treatment of these two great oratorios by Haydn? And what do you think are the differences between these two oratorios and the third early oratorio by Haydn, Il Ritorno di Tobia 1775 (revised in 1784 and again in 1808)? As is well known, both van Swieten and Haydn were admirers of Handel and Haydn’s The Creation and The Seasons, conceived after the two London Tours, were both written under the influence of Handel’s music. Moreover, in 1790s van Swieten, with the help of Mozart, managed to present a few masterpieces by Handel (i.e. Messiah, St. Cecilia) to the Viennese public in the famous new orchestration by Mozart. And this Viennese Handelianism exerted a great influence also on Beethoven.

They are of course brother and sister and one might almost view The Seasons as a sequel to The Creation.

The differences are that The Seasons has more secular feel, in that it describes the day to day lives of people within the newly-created world; although The Seasons is framed by choruses which praise God it nevertheless has a much more humanistic touch.

In fact both works might be viewed through the prism of a turn-of-the-century nostalgia, Haydn bidding an almost Hardyesque farewell to a world which was rapidly changing.

The relationship with Swieten is crucial in the genesis of both these works, but it was Haydn himself who sought to emulate the world of the great Handel, having heard his performances in London in the 1790s.

Of course the early oratorio Il Ritorno di Tobia is a very different type of oratorio, much more Italianate and with extremely extended arias – quite a world apart.

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HANDEL CDs (Paul McCreesh)
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 • Handel: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato 1740
Handel: Messiah (rel. 2011)
Handel: Arias (Villazón)
Handel: Saul
Handel: Theodora
Handel: Solomon
Handel: Messiah (rel. 1997)

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3. You have built a large discography for Deutsche Grammophon (ca. 43 albums). And, trough the years, you have recorded Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and then Berlioz, Mendelssohn up to Britten, Górecki, Ligeti and Pärt, creating thus a powerful trait d’union between the great Sacred Music tradition of Gabrieli and of the Venetian School and the Sacred Music of the contemporary composers of our days. What about your extraordinary musical journey?

The journey has been in two parts…

The early period when Gabrieli was largely focused on the earlier repertoire, and this appeared as part of a great relationship with Deutsche Grammophon.

More recent forays gave continuity in the field of later oratorio and a greater use of mixed repertoire programming on our choral CDs.

But there are still I think many threads of my musicianship that link all these projects.

But that’s for you to analyse!

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4. What’s the story behind the name of your Orchestra: Gabrieli Consort & Players? And what’s the story behind your record label, Winged Lion, a clear homage to the Venetian School? As a conductor/entrepreneur and scholar, which new project will see your forces involved in future? And what about your magnificent project Gabrieli Roar? What can you tell us about its origin, its vision, direction and structure?

No big story.

I just liked the music of the Gabrielis… and the opulence of Venetian repertoire seemed to match the ambition.

As for Winged Lion… It seemed an obvious marketing link.

I certainly answer to the description of conductor and entrepreneur – I certainly like to make projects happen!

I’ve never really regarded myself as a scholar beyond a generic interest to get under the skin of the music I conduct, which of course requires an engagement with the world of musicology and research.

My relationship with Worclaw, Wratslavia Cantans and the new National Forum of Music (NFM) has been one of the most important relationships in my life, and continues to develop with the NFM Choir, NFM Orchestra and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra.

I’m certainly keen to continue this relationship and create more projects.

As I get older I’m spending more time trying to do at least a little bit to redress the poverty of cultural educational opportunities for too many young people. Or to put it in another way, to broaden access to choral music and singing which is too often an activity of those form either private schools or upper social classes.

Roar is an exciting educational initiative which helps develop young choirs and encourages them to take part in performances alongside our professional artists; in particular I am passionate that the young people get the chance to connect with real core culture.

We don’t create special music for young people but we ask them to engage with the great choral repertoire of the last five centuries.

Too many people will tell you that classical music is irrelevant to young people; Roar proves this statement to be patronising nonsense.

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GABRIELI ROAR: Meet the Choirs (Paul McCreesh)
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The Choirs involved in the project Gabrieli Roar.

Bradford Catholic Youth Choir
 • Cantate
 • DRET Youth Choir
 • Hertfordshire County Youth Choir
Inner Voices
London Youth Choir
Taplow Youth Choir

Gabrieli Roar works with various partner youth choirs from across the UK, pairing each choir with a dedicated mentor who will visit them regularly to provide vocal training, assistance and support in other areas as required.

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5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

Mozart – I never tire of the last 3 symphonies, and likewise with Haydn the last two great oratorios are a constant source of delight and amazement.

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4. Which neglected composer of the 18th century may arouse your interest for possible future projects?

I’m not sure obscure 18th century music is so much of a priority for me, but I certainly still have a great interest in English 17th century composers from Humfrey Locke, Blow et alii.

Likewise I wish the commercial world would let the ensemble do more work in Schütz and the great German early 17th century sacred music.

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7. Mozart and Haydn have written many beautiful Vocal Works, which, unfortunately, are still rarely performed today and which are even almost unknown, which one arouses your interest?

I’ve loved the late Haydn masses, but also the earlier St. Cecilia mass – which I’ve never done – looks to be an extremely interesting work.

With Mozart I’ve often felt the sacred music, finely crafted though it is, rarely reaches anywhere near the level of inspiration of the great operas.

The truth is that making recordings in the current market is a huge loss-making activity however much critical success the recordings may enjoy.

So to be realistic there is very little chance of recording obscure repertoire.

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8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

The vast Haydn volumes of Robbins Landon still remain a wonderful resource.

One might often argue about the analysis but there is still a wealth of very interesting background information.

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9. For your concerts and your recordings, you have visited many different places with a great history and you have had so the special opportunity to work in such splendid locations. Which places and which occasions left the most enduring impressions on you, as a conductor and as an artist?

Too many to mention…

We’ve been honoured to play Bach in St. Thomas Leipzig, Gabrieli in San Rocco, Monteverdi in San Marco, Mendelssohn in Leipzig, Purcell in Stationer’s Hall.

But for the sheer thrill of rolling back the centuries I will always remember arriving in the timeless little town of Lerma in Castille in 2001 with a van load of new old music for the court there.

It was amazing to recreate the world of Spanish alternatim music in the glorious Collegiate church of San Pedro, with singers, wind band, string band and the church’s two magnificent c17 organs.

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Scuola Grande di San Rocco (Venice)

10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century music?

No one particular place although it is always of great interest to wander round historical buildings.

A visit to the great Haydn Eszterháza Palace is a must for any Haydn lover.

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Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!

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Copyright © 2017 MozartCircle. All rights reserved.MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use

 

CD Spotlight May 2017: Vanhal: 6 Quartette Concertante

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6 Quartette Concertante

Chamber Music by Vanhal.
6 Quartette for Oboe & String
Trio Op. 7 (1771).Vanhal was a friend of Mozart
& Mozart used his Symphonies,
Concertos & Chamber Music
as Style reference.Sarah Francis
Tagore String Trio

Hyperion

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CD Spotlight April 2017: Vanhal: Sacred Works

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Sacred Works

Selected Sacred Works by Vanhal
from his vast repertoire.

Vanhal was a friend of Mozart
& Mozart used his Symphonies,
Concertos & Chamber Music
as Style reference.

Boni Pueri Boys Choir
Czech Chamber Philharmonic
Orchestra Pardubice
Marek Stryncl

ArcoDiva

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Interview March 2017: 10 Questions with J. A. Montaño (English)

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Lee esta entrevista en Español

José Antonio Montaño: Official Sites
José Antonio Montaño Official Site: José Antonio Montaño
José Antonio Montaño Official Site: La Madrileña Orchestra
José Antonio Montaño: José Antonio Montaño LinkedIn (Official)
José Antonio Montaño: José Antonio Montaño Twitter (Official)
José Antonio Montaño: José Antonio Montaño Facebook (Official)
José Antonio Montaño: José Antonio Montaño YouTube (Official)

José Antonio Montaño & La Madrileña: La Madrileña Twitter (Official)
José Antonio Montaño & La Madrileña: La Madrileña Facebook (Official)

José Antonio Montaño conducting Martín y Soler, Haydn & Mozart:



1. Thanks to your intense activity as conductor, artistic director, music scholar and critical editor, you managed to develop an important series of music projects on a very special Viennese triad: Mozart, Haydn and Martín y Soler. So you really re-create, this way, that special authentic Vienna musical atmosphere of the 1780s, when Haydn was already a papa and both Mozart and Martín y Soler (backed by those great librettos by Da Ponte) became the Theatre Opera Best Sellers from Vienna to Prague with their Nozze di Figaro, Una cosa rara, Don Giovanni and L’arbore di Diana, and Martín y Soler was so successful to become the favourite composer of the Imperial Court. What fascinated and fascinates you most about the music of Martín y Soler? And, in your opinion, what characteristics of his music and of his operas impressed and attracted the 18th century audience so much that Martín y Soler’s operas managed to receive such an extraordinary amount of theatre performances for that period (almost 100 performances only for Una cosa rara and the usual theatre income for 24 successful performances was ca. 20,000 florins, i.e. ca. 140,000 modern US dollars: Mozart’s annual Imperial salary was 800 florins, i.e. ca. 4,800 modern US dollars)?

Since my early years as a musical director, I have had the impulse to research and perform forgotten works by not-so-popular musicians such as La Contadina by Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), the zarzuela Las labradoras de Murcia by Antonio Rodríguez de Hita (1724-1787) and the oratorio Il sacrifizio di Abramo by Camilla de Rossi (16??-1710). In this context and while I was studyig in-depth Spanish authors of the 17th and 18th centuries, Vicente Martín y Soler (1754-1806) appeared. It also coincided that back in 2006, when the Teatro Real de Madrid (Royal Theatre of Madrid), where I was working as conductor of its young orchestra Orquesta Escuela de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid, decided to produce the opera Il Tutore Burlato (1775) on the occasion of the 200th death anniversary of Martín y Soler and therefore I had the chance to work in-depth on his music. It was in that very moment that I began studying his work and life more thoroughly.

Martín y Soler, Il Tutore Burlato, Overture

The first factor that has drawn me to Martín y Soler was that he, a Spanish composer, could enjoy such resounding success in Europe’s most prominent musical centres in the final years of the 18th century, and that he was, at the same time, in direct competition to musicians of the highest level such as Mozart himself, whom he even managed to surpass in popularity.

What I find fascinating about Martín y Soler also coincides with what I think was one of the keys to his success: to be a flexible and versatile musician who knew how to adapt himself and his music to the various trends and requirements that he had to face during the various and different (also geographical) situations of his life, be that in Spain, Italy, England, Russia or Vienna with their respective Italian, French and Russian operas.

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A great example of this is what happened when the empress Catherine II of Russia requested the service of Vicente Martín y Soler, who was at that moment a highly acclaimed composer and a favourite of Joseph II in Vienna, where he was known, in his role of a successful and celebrated maestro, as lo Spagnuolo.

The czarina was not satisfied with the work of Domenico Cimarosa who was then maestro di cappella at the Imperial Court and whose duties included the composition of Italian operas and the new Russian opera which Catherine II wanted to empower. Martín y Soler knew how to adapt to his Russian operas and highly fulfilled what was expected of him.

On the other hand, thanks to this replacement, in 1791 Cimarosa reached Vienna where he occupied, for a few months, the position of court composer that was formerly deserted by Salieri, (a position also intensely desired by Mozart, dead by then), to conduct the premiere of Il Matrimonio segreto in February 1792 with resounding success, which is considered today his best opera and one of the best comic operas of that period. It is well known how, after the sudden death (by poisoning?) of the Austrian emperor Leopold in March 1792, Cimarosa had to leave the Imperial Court and Salieri received his position of court composer back, to keep it de facto for another thirty years.

Cimarosa, Il matrimonio segreto (2012)

Another of the keys to Martín y Soler’s success was that he knew how to keep this flexibility and his ability to adapt without ever losing his own style and essence.

Throughout his career, his aesthetics follow certain general guidelines similar to those used by Spanish composers of the 18th century: a clear and clean orchestration, that avoids excess and artificiality where the voice did not compete in a counterpoint way with the orchestra, and a contained harmony. This apparent simplicity, his capacity for creating beautiful and catchy melodies and that amiable atmosphere of divertimento of his operas enchanted and captivated the audience of all the social classes.
It surely comes across as striking, yet during Martín y Soler’s Viennese period his operas were certainly more frequently performed and had more success than the majority of Mozart’s, who deliberately wrote for intellectual elite.

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2. You gained great audience and critical acclaim a few years ago, thanks to your most beautiful and brilliant production of Haydn’s opera La vera costanza. What did you love most of Haydn, the opera composer? And in what elements of his operas do you think the inventiveness and wit of the Haydn of the Quartets and of the Symphonies do emerge with all their charm?

Haydn really played a major and fundamental role in establishing two of the greatest forms of western music: the string quartet and the symphony. He used the string quartet as the means for formal experimenting, achieving thus that peculiar unity, where before there was just a series of movements. He exports his work on the string quartet to his symphonies and, of course, to his operas as well. That interrelation between different genres that he encouraged is, in its essence, both logical and visible. During his life, Haydn enjoyed success and recognition for his work, as rarely happens in history, however after his death and to this day his numerous and valuable works have become progressively forgotten and neglected due to various circumstances. Among these circumstances there is certainly also the appearance of Mozart and Beethoven, and so daddy Haydn started occupying the real undeserved role of a mere introduction to the well-known geniuses.

His very works are a real example of this kind of oblivion that their composer Haydn had to suffer, since they are rarely featured in present theatre programmes, and this is a tremendous pity.

I have been lucky enough to be able to work on such magnificent title as La vera costanza (1779)…

Haydn, La vera costanza, Sinfonia Introduzione

Haydn, La vera costanza, Finale Atto II

… and Il mondo della luna (1777), both composed while Haydn was in the service of the Eszterházy family (and the majority of his operatic catalogue was conceived, written and produced in such circumstances).

Haydn’s creativity and imagination are overwhelming. His arias and ensemble numbers have their own personality and they are characterized by that peculiar Haydnian scent, so to speak. Haydn is a real magician when it comes to regulating the intensity of music and to carrying it to its climax in a masterly way in his Finale, as his friend and admirer Mozart did in a very similar way.

However Haydn had a disadvantage, when we consider his opera production in comparison to that of Mozart and Martín y Soler: the quality of his librettos, in reality, was not excellent. Working in the Eszterházy court, he did not have a lot of opportunities to work with librettists of the rank of Lorenzo Da Ponte, while Mozart and Martín y Soler could work with him, one of the best librettists of that period. Probably this is one of the reasons why present day theatres do not produce his operas with particular assiduousness, even though Haydn’s music is so marvellous.

Another aspect that I much cherish in Haydn is his humour, always so manifestly evident in his entire musical production and this even more overtly and effectively in his own operas.

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3. Thanks to your activity as concert organizer, you have revived also a special type of 1780s concert: concerts featuring, during the same soirée, music by Mozart and by Martín y Soler. Probably the first time this happens since 1780s, when we know from the sources that music-lovers adored to organize such types of concerts (Mozart+Martín y Soler) with «extraordinarily numerous audience… and in unanimous satisfaction… elicited unanimous applause». What have been your impressions in finally re-uniting such two great masters of music for the same concert? Mozart wrote also a few vocal pieces to be included in the Operas by Martín y Soler: do you think he wrote such pieces, by using exclusively his own style or added also a bit of Martín y Soler in them?

I see this type of programmes with great satisfaction, both on a personal level and also because of the reaction of the audience and of the musicians themselves. A marvellous example is the programme for the debut of my period instrument orchestra La Madrileña which featured exclusively works by both authors. I chose masterpieces by Mozart such as the Symphony No. 40 in G Minor,…

Mozart, Symphony nº 40

…  the aria of Leporello Madamina, il catalogo è questo from Don Giovanni or the duo Crudel! Perchè finora from The marriage of Figaro and I combined them with overtures, arias and duos from operas by Martín y Soler such as Il burbero di buon cuore, Una cosa rara, La capricciosa corretta and L’isola del piacere. These works did not only prove a competence of Martín y Soler on the level of a Mozart, but the audience and even some of the orchestra members themselves were really amazed at the intrinsic high quality of Martín y Soler’s works.

Regarding your second question, yes indeed, the musical interrelation between Mozart and Martín y Soler is not only due to the famous quote from Una cosa rara which appears in the finale of Don Giovanni.

Sometimes these operas were performed during a long period of time and it would be necessary to replace one or another of the singers and such situations led to inevitably remake and readjust the music to the new voices.
This is exactly what happened in 1789 with the repositioning of a few arias of Il Burbero di buon cuore for the character of Madama Lucilla: Chi sa qual sia and Vado, ma dove.

Mozart, Aria Chi sa qual sia

This opera by Martín y Soler had premiered three years before and the new singer, Louise Villeneuve, needed for her arias to be developed in a more centred register. As lo Spagnuolo, Martín y Soler, was in San Petersburg, Mozart received the assignment for the rewriting. Mozart accepted and composed these two magnificent arias based on the same text by Lorenzo Da Ponte, yet in his own personal style.

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4. Your orchestra La Madrileña receives its name after Martín y Soler first opera Il tutore burlato or La Madrileña (1775-1776 as zarzuela), both as an homage to Martín y Soler and as a label for your Music Project The Martín y Soler Project. Among your activities with your orchestra, you are presenting a series of concerts featuring again rare beautiful music from the Spain of the 18th century with works by Martín y Soler, Boccherini, José de Nebra, Rodriguez de Hita and from the Zarzuela tradition. What are your vision and your projects for your orchestra La Madrileña and for the music of 18th century for the future, especially regarding The Martín y Soler Project? Do you think also that your activity of music critical editor will lead you also to re-discover some other lost music gems, after your marvellous work with Martín y Soler’s opera Pesnolubie?

I have great and ambitious expectations for La Madrileña and The Martín y Soler Project related activities. I hope we could soon complete our concert activities with also a series of productions of opera and zarzuela; the musicians I am fortunate to rely on are extremely capable and this allows them to tackle any type of production.

Regarding the Martín y Soler Project, which is in the DNA of La Madrileña, it is through this project that we aspire to encounter the recognition that Martín y Soler deserves. I firmly believe that the ideal way to showcase his music qualities is through an orchestra of period instruments of the highest standard such as La Madrileña.

Regarding the second question, I have been finding really hidden gems for so many years, until today, and I am sure that this state of things will certainly continue in this way, as long as I steadily carry on a strenuous archival and documentary research.

On the other hand, and especially regarding the Spanish music heritage, we have to state that it is so vast and of such a high quality, that it is hard to believe that it has been so scarcely performed so far. In addition, I have the pleasure to be able to rely on the invaluable help of various musicologists. Vera Fouter is one of them and her contribution is the largest one to The Martín y Soler Project. Doctor Fouter (Vera Fouter at Academia; Read here her work on Martín y Soler – University of Oviedo: La Estancia en Rusia de Vicente Martín y Soler: nuevas aportaciones musicologicas) is an academic major, specialized in Martín y Soler and it is mainly thanks to her studies and efforts that the revival in modern times of three arias from the opera Pesnolubie by Martín y Soler has been possible and this with the collaboration of La Madrileña: such works, in fact, have not been performed for more than 200 years!

 

Martín y Soler, Aria V svéte liúdi svoevólni, from opera Pesnolubie

Presently we continue working together on Martín y Soler’s music and we are really looking forward to being able to show the fruit of our work, as soon as possible, by presenting, to the public, new marvellous forgotten gems by him and by other composers.

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5. Your favourite work by Mozart and your favourite work by J. Haydn.

This is a tough question, since I am literally capable of crazily falling in love with the works I am working on at the moment.

If I am conducting the 41st Symphony by Mozart, it happens that, during the process of study, the rehearsals, and the concerts, that very symphony can become even my favourite symphony ever.

And this always happens to me, always and with all the works I am working on.

However, if I had really to choose an opera, in particular, and nothing else, I’d choose Don Giovanni.

Mozart, Don Giovanni, Overture

Mozart, Don Giovanni, Aria Madamina, il catalogo è questo

I also think that that very peculiar experience that one lives when conducting (one’s memories, perceptions, the atmosphere, etc.), always exerts a great influence on one’s disposition towards things and also towards music works.

Many things, so, may exert a direct influence on one’s choices, but, without a doubt, Don Giovanni is special to me.
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For Haydn, I would choose Die Schöpfung.

It is a masterpiece for which I have always cultivated a profound admiration: it is an oratorio full of subtleties and of dramatic qualities, well deserving to be positioned among the greatest masterpieces of all time.

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6. Beside Martín y Soler, do you have in mind the name of some neglected composer of the 18th century you’d like to see re-evaluated?

I am interested in José de Nebra (1702-1768), a Spanish composer who composed marvellous zarzuelas and sacred works.

He is a great artist who, with minimal resources, was capable of achieving great expressiveness: a characteristic typical only of great maestros.

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7. Considering your work on Martín y Soler and the zarzuela, name a neglected piece of music of the 18th century you’d like to see performed in concert with more frequency.

Any opera by Martín y Soler and any zarzuela by Nebra represent marvellous concert and performance proposals, worthy to be included into any Music Season programme more frequently.

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8. Have you read a particular book on Mozart Era you consider important for the comprehension of the music of this period?

I think it is of great importance to develop a proper knowledge both of the oldest and of the latest musical treatises, with a particular attention to those treatises, which belong to the same era as the music works you are working on: it’s the only way to better understand any phase of the musical creativity process in its correct context and also within the historical flow.

To have a wider perspective always gives you the possibility of a better comprehension both of the subject, as a whole, and of its single parts and elements. Considering this special perspective, I think that the famous treatises by Quantz and Leopold Mozart are indispensable tools for any musician, even though those treatises belong to a previous generation, or better, exactly because they belong to that previous generation that produced the music of the 18th century.

On the other hand, I consider it very useful to develop also a proper historical, social and political knowledge, and not only a musical and an artistic one. I would like to cite here The Present State of Music in France and Italy by Charles Bruney and the Memoirs by Lorenzo Da Ponte, both perfect books for that type of intellectual work, I was talking about.

[The Memoirs by Lorenzo Da Ponte are already available to read & download at the MozartCircle Library: Mozart’s Life Books – Other Sources. Also the other books and treatises will be available soon.]

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9. Name a movie or a documentary that can improve the comprehension of the music of this period.

Considering the movies related to classicism, it is inevitable to remember the most famous Amadeus.

To complete an ideal trilogy that would help to grant a perspective on the previous and later periods I would cite Eroica, which re-enacts the first rehearsal of the 3rd Symphony by Beethoven (the recording is with musicians who play on period instruments), and Farinelli, il castrato, especially because of the very peculiar relationship of this great singer and of his family with Spain.

 

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10. Do you think there’s a special place to be visited that proved crucial to the evolution of the 18th century piano music?

I think that if I had to choose a place, it would be Vienna.

The weight and influence that Haydn and Mozart had on Beethoven and on the future of the German and European music is simply indisputable.

However we cannot forget to mention Italy.

The musical genre of Viennese classicism, in fact, is par excellence, in reality, the Italian Opera buffa, to which later composers, like Rossini and Donizetti, gave their enormous contribution, preparing the way to a long series of excellent maestros, from Bellini to Verdi.

 

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Thank you very much for having taken the time to answer our questions!

Thank you!

Copyright © 2017 MozartCircle. All rights reserved. MozartCircle exclusive property. 
Iconography is in public domain or in fair use.