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Mozart Handel & Bach

Eric Bergerud wrote (April 13, 2006):
Just got a copy of Paul McCreeh's version of the Mozart Great Mass. In keeping with McCreesh's policy of jamming every possible bit onto his CDs, it is accompanied by Haydn's "Scena di Berenice" and Beethoven's "Ah! perfido", giving the listener over 74 minutes of music on the disc. And as is the norm with McCreesh the engineering is absolutely top drawer. The performances are not as idiosyncratic as some of the conductor's other efforts, but sweet to my ears.

The following appears in the liner notes. It might be of some note as apparently Richard Taruskin is arguing that the continuity between the German baroque and German romantic composers was an artificial construct created by German musical nationalists after the Franco-Prussian War. (He may be right I suppose. Would Handel count as a representative of the German baroque?)

Mozart wrote his Mass soon after his friend Baron Gottfried van Swieten loaned him the works of Bach (possibly including a copy of the B minor Mass obtained from C.P.E. Bach) and Handel. These were to have a profound effect on the young composer, and his own Mass setting shows the influence of his baroque predecessors. According to Paul McCreesh, "The C minor Mass is Mozart at his most baroque. He is clearly looking backwards, at least in the choral movements, sever of which might have been written 20 or 30 years earlier. Besides the traces of Bach, there is so much Handel in the piece: and for Mozart as for Haydn, Handel was the baroque composer par excellence, more so even than Bach, whose music was not so widely circulated at that time. So you get this fascinating juxtaposition: on the one hand, the flexibility, the suave sensuality of the solo vocal passages, with, for the sopranos, that fresh, agile, quasi-instrumental writing that Mozart loved so much; and on the other, the colossal, almost baroque choral movements with their static chords and often quite slow moving harmonies."

BTW: according to Archiv Brilliant is changing distributors. If this means they are following the direction of Naxos, expect a price increase. Archiv is selling the Brilliant catalog at old prices. Except for the Complete Bach ($249 - maybe still less in Europe but not too bad for 160 CDs) there are no cantatas, although the Passions with Cleobury/Goodman are available. However, there are lots of baroque and classical CDs, many on period instruments. It may be that the $5 CD is not good for the classical music business, but this may be the last chance to find out.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 13, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Just got a copy of Paul McCreeh's version of the Mozart Great Mass. In keeping with McCreesh's policy of jamming every possible bit onto his CDs, it is accompanied by Haydn's "Scena di Berenice" and Beethoven's "Ah! perfido", giving the listener over 74 minutes of music on the disc. >
Does McCreesh "complete" the C Minor Mass with movements from the other big Mass in C Major by Mozart?

Eric Bergerud wrote (April 14, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] According to McCreesh:

"The version we are recording is by Richard Maunder, who has completed the movements where Mozart's orchestration is incomplete; but no attempt has been made to supply music which Mozart left unwritten...It is a torso and of course we would all love it to have been completed but like Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, the mass as it is stands hangs together. It is through-composed, and simply glorious music, and that makes it worth performing as it is. Any attempt to complete it runs the risk of negating the quality of what survives"

This is my third recording of the piece and it takes top prize for me. I can't say that I'm familiar with the sopranos Camilla Tilling or Sarah Connolly, but they make lovely music with McCreesh. Mozart did have a way
with sopranos: maybe that's why he married Constanze. (McCreesh believes that the Mass was written by Mozart to fulfill a pledge Mozart made to the Lord if Constanze would marry him. The "torso" was performed outside Salzburg and Constanze sang one of the major parts. The Bishop forbade the performance inside the city because elaborate Mass settings had been discouraged by Joseph II. But the work wasn't finished: maybe that says something about the marriage or maybe just Mozart's schedule. Interesting pair anyway.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 14, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< The "torso" was performed outside Salzburg and Constanze sang one of the major parts. The Bishop forbade the performance inside the city because elaborate Mass settings had been discouraged by Joseph II. But the work wasn't finished: maybe that says something about the marriage or maybe just Mozart's schedule. Interesting pair anyway.) >
I read somewhere that there were early liturgical peformances at which the ,missing movements were supplied from another Mass in C by Mozart.

Uri Golomb wrote (April 14, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I read somewhere that there were early liturgical peformances at which the ,missing movements were supplied from another Mass in C by Mozart. >
I know there is an early 20th century reconstruction -- I think by Alois Schmidt [correct me if I'm wrong] -- which tried to complete the C minor Mass using other works by Mozart. This seems problematic, as Mozart's other masses are much shorter and (let's face it) mostly of lower quality than the C minor torso. I think Gardiner's used Schmidt's orchestration for the torso -- but not his "completion" fo the rest of the work.

Robert Levin recently did a completion for Helmuth Rilling, which I heard in concert. I love Levin's version of the Requiem, but his C minor Mass is distinclty unconvincing: he uses a lot of old-style polyphony, competent but not really inspiring; I can't really believe that Mozart wanted "et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum" to sound less exhilarating than "cum sancto spiritu", but that's exactly what happens in Levin's version. I still believe the best thing you can do with this work is perform it as a torso, jsut completing the missing orchestration and filling in inner voices where necessary. There are several versions that do that (e.g., Robbins-Landon, Maunder).

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 14, 2006):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< Robert Levin recently did a completion for Helmuth Rilling, which I heard in concert. I love Levin's version of the Requiem, but his C minor Mass is distinclty unconvincing: he uses a lot of old-style polyphony, competent but not really inspiring; I can't really believe that Mozart wanted "et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum" to sound less exhilarating than "cum sancto spiritu", but that's exactly what happens in Levin's version. I still believe the best thing you can do with this work is perform it as a torso, jsut completing the missing orchestration and filling in inner voices where necessary. There are several versions that do that (e.g., Robbins-Landon, Maunder). >
This is so obvious that it boggles the mind that there are would be co-authors who believe themselves able to think like the best of the best composers in their best work. The simple point is that such composers in their best work would not do the expected. Otherwise machines could compose their work.

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 14, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] In the case of the Mozart Mass in C Minor, there's no validity to the argument that Mozart intended it to be "unfinished" or a "torso" The evidence suggests that it was performed in Mozart's lifetime, and the practice of adding movements from other masses is normal for the period: Mozart himself wrote a "Kyrie" for insertion into another mass setting.

In the Baroque period, both Vivaldi's celebrated Gloria in D major and Monteverd's incomparable Glora a 6 were written as "subsititute" movements in other settings. One could argue that Bach did it for himself, adding the "Osanna-Dona Nobis" cantata to his Lutheran Missa Brevis, Credo and Sanctus to complete a Catholic mass.

The Baroque and Classicaperiods are full of examples of works being "finished" by others. The most famous is Sussmayr's completion of the Requiem, which MAY have been authorized by the dying composer. At least one 20th century editor (his name escapes me for the moment) has attempted a better "completion" of the Requiem, writing a full "Amen" fugue for the end of the "Die Irae" based on a sketch by Mozart. That Mozart intended a traditional fugue at this point can't be doubted: Sussmayr's bald "Amen" is no solution.

And closer to home, should we not have the opportunity to hear someone's "completion" of the "Art of the Fugue"? I've heard several organists play their solutions, and I don't believe for a moment that Bach would object. In fact, one could argue that the unfinished fugue is an invitation to the musician complete the work.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 14, 2006):
<< Robert Levin recently did a completion for Helmuth Rilling, which I heard in concert. I love Levin's version of the Requiem, but his C minor Mass is distinclty unconvincing: >>
< The simple point is that such composers in their best work would not do the expected. Otherwise machines could compose their work. >

Nevertheless, Levin has been improvising cadenzas in Mozart piano concertos for at least 18 years, and very well. Beethoven concertos too.

On improvisatory Mozart, there's a good article by Levin in this book: http://www.music.qub.ac.uk/tomita/bachbib/review/bb-review_KeybBE.html

Levin's completion of Mozart's sinfonia concertante K297 B: http://www.google.com/search?q=levin+mozart+297

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 14, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The Baroque and Classical periods are full of examples of works being "finished" by others. The most famous is Sussmayr's completion of the Requiem, which MAY have been authorized by the dying composer >
And so is the 20th century replete with such attempts, the most known one being the Alfano completion of Puccini's Turandot (severely truncated by Toscanini in the way that we usually hear it).

I find the completion by Sussmayer, a student of the composer (ditto the Alfano completion, a friend and colleague of the composer) a very different matter than a current musicologist trying to do this.

The most misguided example that comes to mind is the Rosamunde completion of Schubert's Unfinished.

The Unfinished (as also Bruckner's 9th) works fine for me as left. Yes, I know of the sketches for the Bruckner and the beginnings of a third mvt. for the Schubert.

Eric Bergerud wrote (April 15, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] Richard Maunder, I assume the same gent to completed some of the movements in the McCreesh Great Mass, wrote the liner notes for Hogwood's Mozart Requiem. He makes it quite clear that it is not clear precisely how much of the work attributed to Sussmayr were either actually "true blue Mozart", completion of outlined work or more or less original Sussmayr. (No small matter for that recording because Hogwood dispensed with the bits he thoughts 100% Sussmayr. Maunder comments that Mozart had low esteem for Sussmayr and that he was given the job only because some of Mozart's other students preferred by Constanze could not finish the work in a timely manner.) McCreesh also mentions that it is possible that some parts of the Great Mass had been lost, so the "torso" might have been a larger one than possessed by posterity. And, as noted in the previous post, McCreesh does not claim that the work was intentionally left "unfinished" but was performed soon after composition with Constanze herself adding a personal note to proceedings. It does seem that Mozart intended something larger when he got around to it. But perhaps a Mass was a little like a Cathedral - completion was a relative term. I think this fits Doug's point perfectly.

Teddy Kaufman wrote (April 14, 2006):
Mozart and Bach

Barry Creasy (Chairman, Collegium Musicum of London ) commented on Mozart' Requiem and C minor Mass , as follows:

"It is to posterity's lasting disappointment that Mozart did not complete his two greatest liturgical works, the Requiem and the C minor Mass. The former, of course, was left incomplete because of the composer's death, but the C minor Mass seems to have been the victim of the upheaval in Mozart's life caused by his resignation from the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg and his marriage (against his father's wishes) to Constanze Weber in 1782. When the newly-weds returned to Salzburg in 1783, Mozart had with him the incomplete score of the Mass and intended to fulfil a vow made to finish it. In the event, the Mass (which, if completed, would have had a duration comparable to Bach's B minor Mass) remained unfinished, lacking the Agnus Dei and most of the movements of the Creed as well as some of the orchestration of the extant 'Credo' and 'Sanctus'. What is known is that it was first performed on August 25 1783 in St Peter's Church, Salzburg with Constanze herself taking one of the soprano solo parts. It is not known how the missing sections were filled in in this performance - it is possible that they were omitted altogether, spoken, or sung to different music.

"Subsequent editorial treatment by Schmidt (1901) and H. Robbins Landon has made the extant but incomplete movements performable. In terms of style, the Mass draws considerably on Mozart's study of the Baroque masters - the influence of Bach and Händel are evident in the great choral movements and the 'Domine Deus' and 'Quoniam' recall Alessandro Scarlatti and Pergolesi respectively. The piece opens quietly with a sombre statement of the 'Kyrie' by the chorus, this is followed by a 'Christe' section for soaring solo soprano, and the two join for the last 'Kyrie' portion of the movement. The 'Gloria' is in seven contrasting movements: a rejoicing 'Gloria' is followed by a disturbingly quiet 'Et in terra pax'; an Italianate coloratura soprano aria ('Laudamus te') then leads into a sliding five-part chorus 'Gratias'. The 'Domine Deus' is a pyrotechnic duet for two sopranos and strings and it is followed by a double-dotted 'French overture-style' 'Qui tollis' for double chorus. The italianate trio 'Quoniam' is followed by a fugal 'Cum Sancto Spiritu'. The two existing movements of the Creed are deeply contrasting: the lively 'Credo in unum Deum' recalls Mozart's earlier masses, but the 'Et incarnatus' is a lilting siciliana and displays some of Mozart's finest writing for woodwind in the final cadenza for soprano, flute, oboe and bassoon. The eight-part 'Sanctus' (parts reconstructed by Schmidt) is expansive and contrasts with the light, fugal 'Osanna'. Unusually for the period, the 'Benedictus' is not an amiable melodic aria but a serious exercise in worked counterpoint for four soloists. The piece ends with a return to the 'Osanna' fugue."

The inspiration Mozart derived from studying Bach has been outlined by Michelle Rasmussen ( Bach,Mozart, and the 'Musical Midwife' - The New Federalist, August 6, 2001) citing the following musical pieces:
Prelude (fantasy) and Fugue in C, K. 394 (383a)
* Fugues K. 401 and 443
* C Minor Fugue for two pianos, K. 426 from 1783 (later transcribed by Mozart for a string quartet).
* Mozart's C Minor Mass, K. 427 (417a), unfinished

Rassmusen claimed in addition that "...Mozart worked on his C Minor Mass during the period he was attending Baron van Swieten's salon in 1782-83. He had originally planned to perform it in Salzburg, the city of his birth, after his marriage to Constanze, but he did not finish it. The uncompleted mass was performed in October 1783, with Constanze as a soprano soloist.

"The conductor of the Mozartverein, Kappelmeister Alois Schmitt, in the tradition of Mozart's pupil Süssmayr's work to complete Mozart's Requiem, edited and completed the Mass in C Minor, completing the instrumentation from sketches, and adding sections from other Mozart masses tfill in the missing parts.
"Schmitt explicitly acknowledged Bach and Händel's influence on the composition of this work, and names Mozart's transcriptions of Bach's fugues in the preface to the first edition:

"Thanks to the Sunday concerts at Baron van Swieten's home, Mozart had become quite well acquainted with the past masters Bach and Händel. He arranged ten fugues by Bach for string instruments and instrumented several oratorios by Händel for Baron van Swieten...." After commenting on Händel's influence, Schmitt continued, "On the other hand, the quartet Benedictus is more in the spirit of Bach. The austere sweetness, the masterful polyphony of this piece give it a unique flavour found nowhere else in Mozart literature."

According to Rassmusen, Bach's influence is also evident in:
* The "Cum Sancto Spiritu" section, and the double fugue "Hosana."
* The Jupiter Symphony, No. 41, K. 551, with the great contrapuntal finale written in "invertible" counterpoint.
* Suite in C major, incomplete, K. 399
* Sonata for piano and violin in A major-minor, with an unfinished fugal finale (K. 402)
* Piano sonata K. 309
* Fantasia for piano in D minor (K. 397)
* Piano Sonata K. 475
* "the contrapuntal flavor of the later (piano) sonatas"
* canons, some with very naughty texts (K.229-231, 233, 234, 347, 348)
* F minor Fantasia for mechanical organ, K. 608
* The Bach chorale with counterpoint sung by the armed men in Act II, Scene 28 of The Magic Flute
* The Requiem

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 15, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< And, as noted in the previous post, McCreesh does not claim that the work was intentionally left "unfinished" but was performed soon after composition with Constanze herself adding a personal note to proceedings. It does seem that Mozart intended something larger when he got around to it. But perhaps a Mass was a little like a Cathedral - completion was a relative term. I think this fits Doug's point perfectly. >
But if all the mvts were on the scale of the extant mvts., the work would not be suitable for services of any sort as far as I know.

Would it not end up as long as the Bach Mass?

 

Sweiten & Bach

Douglas Cowling wrote (January 4, 2011):
Neil Mason wrote:
< I seem to recall a story that Baron von Zweiten introduced Mozart to the music of Bach, and commissioned him to re-orchestrate Messiah, Acis & Galatea >
Reminds me of a traumatic moment years ago when the Tallis Choir of Toronto was performing "Acis and Galatea". The rented parts arrived very late and we were horrified to find that is was Mozart's arrangement with clarinets and horns. Lovely music but not for the orchestra which was arriving in two days.

There are several free-standing fugues by Mozart which are clearly influenced by the Well-Tempered manuscripts were circulating in Vienna.

Is there a modern biography of Van Swieten? He's so important to the Bach and Handel revival that he deserves more than a reputation in footnotes.

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (January 4, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Is there a modern biography of Van Swieten? He's so important to the Bach and Handel revival that he deserves more than a reputation in footnotes. >
Olleson, Edward: Gottfried van Swieten: Patron of Haydn and Mozart," Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 89th Sess. (1962–1963), pp. 63–74. Available online from JSTOR.

Groves has an article as well.

Mozart undertook many attempts at fugue writing based on his weekly visits to Baron von Swieten's home. Many are incomplete sketches. I don't know if the NMA reproduced any of them.

Neil Mason wrote (January 4, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Is there a modern biography of Van Swieten? He's so important to the Bach and Handel revival that he deserves more than a reputation in footnotes. >
He's also important in Haydn.

Ed Myskowski wrote (January 4, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Is there a modern biography of Van Swieten? He's so important to the Bach and Handel revival that he deserves more than a reputation in footnotes. >
From a previous google search, re the CPE Bach oratorio, leading to www.mozartforum.com:

<In Johann Nikolaus Forkel's Musical Almanac for Germany for 1789 [correctly 1788] is a report that on February 26, 1788, and again on March 4, a cantata Die Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Christi [The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus], music by the "incomparable Hamburg Bach", was performed at Count Joahnn Esterhazy's in Vienna under the direction of Baron van Swieten. "The I.R. Capellmeister, Herr Mozart, beat the time", while Ignaz Umlauff was at the keyboard.> (end quote)

Additional discussion emphasizes that Van Swieten is the conductor, or music director, with Mozart establishing the tempo, only. There is also a report of the choir (80 voices) and orchestra (30) sizes, for these Vienna performances.

To close out another lingering question, the Ramler text for the CPE Bach oratorio was indeed previously (1760) set by Telemann, and in fact it had been commissioned by (or at least expressly written for) Telemann. CPE Bach and Ramler subsequently cooperated on revisions.

Neil Mason wrote (January 5, 2011):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< To close out another lingering question, the Ramler text for the CPE Bach oratorio was indeed previously (1760) set by Telemann, and in fact it had been commissioned by (or at least expressly written for) Telemann. CPE Bach and Ramler subsequently cooperated on revisions. >
Incidentally I conducted the Australian premiere of the CPE Bach last April.

 

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