Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Flute Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Sometimes it's the lesser-known pieces in a master composer's catalog of works that are the most interesting.  This is certainly the case with these little gems, comprising the two concertos for flute and a short andante in C major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart released by the excellent Naxos label in the late 1980s.

The Capella Istropolitana, a chamber orchestra in Bratislava, Slovakia, conducted by Austrian Martin Sieghart, provides a fine accompaniment to flautist Herbert Weissberg, a native of Vienna, who remained in his music-rich hometown to study at the city's music academy and university and then became principal flautist for the symphony orchestra there.

The helpful liner notes state that Mozart wrote these pieces as part of a concerted (ha!) effort to break free of the limitations imposed upon him by his years under the patronage of the Archbishop in his native Salzburg.

In his very early 20s, about 1777, Mozart composed these concertos for a Dutchman named "De Jean," who was an amateur flautist and someone who had the kind of money Mozart craved, being perpetually in financial distress.

Evidently Mozart did not think highly of the flute and may not have put in the kind of passionate intensity in composition that he did many of his other works.  Still, these pieces are melodically solid and harmonically interesting, even if they don't rank among his greatest pieces.  The light, fragile sound of the flute dancing above the excellent orchestral background is pleasant and maintains interest.

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