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The pervasive influence of the Italian style lingered on well into the 1770s: it not only informs La finta giardiniera and Il re pastore but is also found in the church music, including the litanies k195 and 243 (the second of which embraces a variety of styles including simple homophonic choruses as well as dramatic ones, fugues, a plainchant setting and expressive arias with florid embellishment). Several symphonies, among them k181 and 184, are in three movements, without a break, on the pattern of the Italian overture, while the A major Symphony k201, composed in April 1774, combines southern grace with an intimate, chamber music style as well as full-bodied orchestral writing and a Germanic predilection for imitative textures.
No doubt Mozart's interest in counterpoint, as well as a general deepening of his style at this time, was stimulated by his visit in 1773 to Vienna, where he composed six string quartets. For all its pan-European popularity, the string quartet was little cultivated in Salzburg, where the chief forms of chamber music were the trio for two violins and bass and, during the 1770s, the divertimento for string quartet and two horns (Mozart wrote several such works, including k247 and 287). An altogether more intellectual approach is evident in the quartets: imitative textures are found not only in development sections but in first statements of thematic material as well, while the finales to k168 and k173 are both fugal. Similarly, Mozart's first original keyboard concerto, k175 (possibly intended for organ), exploits counterpoint in ways not previously found in his orchestral music. The finale in particular starts with an imitative gesture that returns in various guises throughout the movement. The Symphony in E k184, its Italianisms notwithstanding, includes a C minor Andante whose main theme is also built on imitation, and the coda to the first movement of the Symphony k201 is a contrapuntal tour de force (the long development section of the finale also includes imitations between basses and first violins). The stormy Viennese style is most apparent in k184 (which was adopted in the 1780s as the overture to T.P. Gebler's Thamos, König in Ägypten, for which Mozart also wrote incidental music) and in the G minor Symphony k183. Some of this drama is carried over into the serenades of the mid-1770s, including k185, 203, 204 and 250 (Haffner), which although more relaxed in tone nevertheless frequently touch on a range of affects far beyond those typical of the genre. It was the serenade, in any case, that by 1775 had gained the upper hand in Mozart's orchestral output; there are no Salzburg symphonies – redactions of serenades aside – dating from between 1774 and 1779.
The church music that Mozart composed during this period mostly conforms to Salzburg traditions. The absence of soloists in the Mass k167 recalls Michael Haydn's Missa S Joannis Nepomuceni of 1772, while in k275 the distribution of solo and tutti, as well as the contrapuntal endings to the Gloria and Credo, the imitative entries at the beginning of the Sanctus and the solo at the Benedictus are reminiscent of Eberlin. Colloredo's church music reforms, described by Mozart in an oft-cited letter to Padre Martini of 4 September 1776 (‘a mass, with the whole Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the epistle sonata, the offertory or motet, the Sanctus and the Agnus, must last no more than three-quarters of an hour’), inform the brevity and style of k192 and 194: both include a minimum of word repetition, simple choral declamation and sparing musical treatment of text meanings, as well as unbroken settings of the Gloria and Credo without extended final fugues. Similar economies are found in k257, 258 and 259. Not all church music composed in Salzburg at this time was subject to Colloredo's reforms, however. A letter written by Leopold Mozart on 1 November 1777 describes a mass by Michael Haydn, the Missa S Hieronymi, that lasted an hour and a quarter. And k262 is a long and elaborate work which includes, besides concluding fugues to the Gloria and Credo, contrapuntal writing even at the Kyrie and ‘Et incarnatus’, and extended orchestral ritornellos.
If the church music mostly fell in step with Salzburg traditions, the symphonies, serenades and concertos of the earlier 1770s differ from other orchestral music composed there not only in their imaginative scoring, formal variety and diverse characters, but also in their susceptibility to critical readings. In the Symphony k133, the opening hammer-strokes do not return at the start of the recapitulation, which begins with the second group, but they appear to be ‘realized’ in the coda, where the weakly articulated theme first heard in the second bar is repeated with strong, downbeat root motion, reproducing the forte dynamic of the hammer-strokes. Not only does this gesture provide stability and closure otherwise lacking in the movement, but there seems little doubt that Mozart considered it quite deliberately. The autograph shows that he originally intended the passage to represent a coda; by cancelling the first ending, however, he integrated it into the movement proper, rather than distancing it from the action (fig.13). Almost certainly it was works such as this that in Salzburg provoked dissatisfaction with Mozart. For his part, he complained that ‘there is no stimulus [there] for my talent. When I play or when any of my compositions is performed, it is just as if the audience were all tables and chairs’.
Shortly before his departure for Paris in autumn 1777 Mozart composed the Piano Concerto k271, which in its scale, mastery of design, virtuosity, elements of surprise (the piano entry in the third bar is unprecedented) and exploitation of the most profound affects, particularly in the recitative sections of the disturbing C minor Andantino, far exceeds his earlier orchestral music. (Some parallels can be found in the violin concertos k216, 218 and 219 of 1775: the first two also have finales in a variety of tempos and metres, while in k219 the soloist is introduced in the first movement by a poetic Adagio episode, and there is a notable ‘Turkish’ episode in the minuet finale.) In many ways, k271 represents a new, more elaborate style that was to become Mozart's norm in the late 1770s. No doubt personal factors contributed to this development. It is difficult to forgo altogether the notion that the Paris–Mannheim journey of 1777–9, which violently wrenched Mozart from adolescence to manhood, dramatically influenced the style and substance of his music.
Whether as a result of ‘foreign’ influences or merely a desire to accommodate his works to a specific public, the music that Mozart composed in Mannheim and Paris frequently recalls local styles. Nannerl Mozart remarked of the Piano Sonata k309, written for Christian Cannabich's daughter Rosina, that ‘anyone could see it was composed in Mannheim’ (letter of 8 December 1777; Leopold, perhaps more astutely, described it on 11 December 1777 as having ‘something of the mannered Mannheim style about it, but so little that your own good style is not spoilt’). Nannerl’s observation may refer to the sharp dynamic contrasts in the first two movements and the affectation of the Andante; a similar atmosphere is evident in the next sonata, k311. The A minor Sonata k310, on the other hand, follows up the tradition of fiery keyboard writing that Schobert and others had pursued in Paris (although the tripartite Andante cantabile, with its agitated outburst at the centre of the movement, is without expressive precedent). In his six sonatas for keyboard and violin published in Paris (k301–06), Mozart also took over some features of Joseph Schuster's accompanied divertimentos (which he praised in a letter of 6 October 1777 to his father), notably in the structure of the first movement of k303, where the Adagio introduction represents the first subject and recurs at the recapitulation. The sonatas exhibit a wide variety of styles and affects, ranging from the eerie, almost claustrophobic, E minor k304 to the quasi-orchestral k302 (similar variety can be found in the piano sonatas of the mid-1770s, among them the mannered k282 and the orchestral k284). Perhaps the most important orchestral work composed at this time was the Paris Symphony k297. Following Leopold's advice, Mozart carefully tailored the work to local taste, beginning with the obligatory premier coup d'archet and continuing with powerful unison and octave passages, brilliant tuttis and exposed passages for the wind. Scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings, the symphony consciously exploits the soundscape of the large Paris orchestra.
Formal and textural variety abounds in the works of the mid- to late 1770s. Frequently, as in the Piano Sonata k280, Mozart avoids settling on the dominant (the same process characterizes the Haffner Symphony k385 of 1782), while some works, including the Piano Sonata k311, reverse the order of the material in the recapitulation. Within the recapitulation itself, Mozart finds effective new ways of avoiding a modulation to the dominant, often incorporating further development that relies on earlier transitional material but does not literally duplicate it. A good example is the Paris Symphony, where the introduction of a C in the basses at bar 175 pushes the harmonies to the subdominant side while also, incidentally, serving to disorientate the listener. Because the movement has no internal repeats, the drop to C conjures up memories of the surprising introduction of B at the start of the development, which serves as the jumping-off point for a modulation to the distant key of F major; consequently, on first hearing the recapitulation may seem to represent a ‘new’ development.
Many of these styles and techniques remained with Mozart after his return to Salzburg in 1779. This is less true of his church music, perhaps, than of his other works, although the Credo of the Coronation Mass k317 has a symphonic thrust lacking in his earlier works and is broken off by an Adagio ‘Et incarnatus’; in this respect it shares with Mozart's instrumental compositions of the time a selfconscious exploitation of musical and affective disruption. In the ‘Posthorn’ Serenade k320, for example, Mozart recalls the striking formal gesture of the Sonata k303, repeating, at the start of the recapitulation, the music of the slow introduction, rewriting it in the prevailing tempo. In the symphonies k318 and 338 Mozart manipulates the recapitulation. k338 repeats only a part of the first theme, reserving the rest for the final cadence, while k318 is altogether novel in its formal outlines, incorporating an Andante after the development and then returning to the second subject before only partly restating the first. Both the Serenade k320 and the magnificent Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola k364 make extensive use of Mannheim-style crescendos. The Andante of k364 in particular represents a peak in Mozart's orchestral style at this time: its rich orchestral textures, with divided violas, verge on the extravagant, while the unwillingness of the soloists to cadence, as they force each other on, often to higher tessituras, gives the movement an almost ecstatic character. (In this regard the Andante is similar in character to the Adagio non troppo of the G minor String Quintet k516, although part of the effect there is harmonic, deriving from the unexpected shifts between minor and major.)
Idomeneo marks the end of this development; it is unquestionably the most complex and opulent work composed by Mozart before his permanent move to Vienna in early 1781. Although nominally an opera seria, Idomeneo departs substantially from that tradition. With its French source, it is more natural in its expression of emotion and more complex in structure, with a greater emphasis on the participation of the chorus; its scoring, for the virtuoso Mannheim orchestra now at Munich, is exceptionally full and elaborate. The influence of Piccinni's French operas, as well as that of Gluck's reform works, is strong.
A remarkable feature of the opera is its abundance of orchestral recitative, which sharply reflects the sense of the words. It also uses recurrent motifs. Certain phrases recur throughout the opera, referring consistently to individual characters and their predominant emotions, including Ilia's grief, Electra's jealousy and Idamantes' feelings about the sacrifice (Heartz, J1974). The key treatment is sometimes unorthodox and invariably expressive, as in Electra's D minor first aria, ‘Tutte nel cor vi sento’. Here Mozart reaches a recapitulation in C minor before returning to the home key; he then modulates, without changing speed, into the music of the tempest, also in C minor and making use of a motif similar to that of the aria. The opera's orchestration includes many new and brilliant details, among them the evocative flute, oboe and violin passages in ‘Fuor del mar’ and the use of sustained wind against inexorable string triples and muted trumpet fanfares in ‘O voto tremendo’. Perhaps the most admired number of the opera is the powerful Act 3 quartet, in which Idamantes resolves to seek death, a tour de force in which intensely chromatic music truthfully embraces four characters' diverse emotions.
Mozart: (3) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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