Friday, January 27, 2006

Wolfie Mania

It is Wolfie mania today. On January 27,1756 Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Gottlieb Mozart was born in Salzburg Austria. No doubt he was a genius, and his musical prowess legendary. He wrote his first symphonies before turning 10 and his first significant opera at 12. He made comic opera a serious art form. He created at least 626 musical works despite an early death at 35.

According to news articles, performances of his works were planned in cities ranging from the expected New York, Washington, Prague, London and Paris, to Tokyo, Caracas, Havana, Mexico City, Taipei and here in Kansas City as well, where the Symphony is performing the Linz Symphony.

But what of this Mozart? To me a lot of his music is not really distinguishable from other music of the era. Maybe a bit more finely crafted, a touch more refined but not all that adventurous.

How many of the 41 Symphonies stand out? Really just the last six (and The "Little g-minor" #29) with the 40th and 41st being the most sublime. Mozart wrote 22 operas, however only 4 (Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte)are true masterpieces. The Horn Concerti are wonderful, but not really adventurous. Add the Requiem (even with Sussmeyer's horrid completion)the Clarinet concerto and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and that is my list of Mozart I enjoy hearing.

So much of Mozart has been turned into ear candy. Sweet, little pieces that no one complains about. Yes it is pretty, yes it is crafted well. Just like a Toyota, Mozart won't let you down and will take you on a nice, no-surprises ride.. but with no fun and few thrills. Haydn or Beethoven, only a few years removed, offer more thrills and drama; just like another major birthday boy this year (100 years), Dmitri Shostakovich. There is a composer that takes you on a journey...bumps and all.

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