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Eine kleine Nachtmusik
Mozart, Mysliveček, Haydn, Boccherini

F10074   [8595017407420]   released 9/1996

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791): Serenade G major, K.525 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik"
Josef Mysliveček (1737 - 1781): String Quartet C major
Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809) or Roman Hoffstetter (1742 - 1815) *: String Quartet F major, Op.3, No. 5 
Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1805): String Quintet E major, Op. 13, No. 5

* Certain musical scientists have reservations as to whether this string quartet was actually written by Haydn.

Wrong product id !

Pro arte antiqua Praha
Václav Návrat - violin by Franz Anton Wild, Brno 1792
Jan Šimon - violin by French master, 2nd half of 18th century
Ivo Anýž - viola by German master, Orfönburg 1808
Petr Hejný - cello by Peregrino Zanetto, Bresciae 1531
Hana Fleková - cello (12 - 15) by Sebastian Rauch, 1720
Ondřej Balcar - double-bass (1 - 4) anonymous, 18th century
         a = 428 Hz

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27.1.1756, Salzburg - 5.12.1791, Vienna) did not attend any schools when he was young since his father Leopold Mozart, himself a composer, took care of his education himself. Wolfgang soon showed great musical talent and, as a miracle child, gave concerts before the Empress in Vienna where he also celebrated his first successes. These provided the instigation to undertake many concert tours all over Europe. Thus the young Mozart had the opportunity to become acquainted with the opera performed in Italian opera houses at the time, with the music of the Mannheim composers and he alsoallowed himself to be influenced by works written by Joseph Haydn. He did not discover new musical forms in his compositions but he brought the existing genres to a state of absolute perfection. His contribution can be felt in all the musical disciplines ? symphonies, concertos, chamber music and opera. And it is in the latter that we find the focal point of his creativity. The Abduction from the Seraiglio, Cosi fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute are works of unusual significance. The symphonies, too, in particular the C major (Jupiter), G minor and E flat major are among the most renowned. His piano concertos in A major, D minor and C major, and his violin concertos in G major, D major and A major are world famous. Of his chamber music, the most popular is Eine kleine Nachtmusik for quintet. Mozart's Requiem was written under mysterious circumstances and remained unfinished since he died at the age of thirty?five. Despite this, however, he left behind him a colossal number of works numbering 626, according to Kochel. Thus Mozart, together with Haydn and Beethoven, represents the height of musical Classicism.
     One of the most important representatives of Czech music abroad during the 18th century was Josef Mysliveček (9.3.1737, Prague - 4.2.1781, Rome). He was born the son of a miller and he learned the trade but, after the death of his father, he handed over the mill to his brother and devoted his time exclusively to music. He received a basic education from the Prague Dominicans and Jesuits and in the choir at St Michael's where the regenschori was Felix Benda. He later studied with F.V.Habermann and J.Seger. In 1763 he settled for good in Italy where he soon became one of the most successful composers of Italia opera seria and thus influenced Italian opera. His considerable popularity earned him the nickname "Il divino Boemo"amongst the Italian public. In 1770 Mysliveček met the young Mozart in Bologna and they formed a firm friendship. Mysliveček could not come to terms with the failure of his opera Armida (1779) and when this was followed by a series of further failures he became a broken man. This misfortune was heightened by illness and the formerly respected and sought?after artist finally died in penury, alone and forsaken. Only part of his extensive repertoire has survived which include piano works, sontatas, chamber and orchestral concertos and overtures. Mysliveček, however, was chiefly a composer of opera. He was a Czech musician who became a celebrated figure outside his country of origin.
     Joseph Haydn (31.3.1732, Rohrau - 31.5.1809, Vienna) was the first representative of the Viennese Classicist trio. His musical talent allowed him, at the age of eight, to be accepted into St Stephen's cathdral choir in Vienna, however, he was dismissed after his voice broke and he found himself on the brink of poverty. He played in public houses and he earned his living from occasional earnings. On the recommendation of his patron, he became kapellmeister for count Morzin and later (1760) for count Esterhazy in Austrian Eisenstadt. It is an interesting fact that Haydn essentially taught himself music by learning to imitate well?known works by other composers. After the death of the count Haydn became a freelance artist and began to travel. He left Vienna for France and then went to England where he was awarded a degree from Oxford University. Overnight he became famous and wealthy. During his lifetime Haydn composed roughly a thousand works from all manner of genres. He continued in the spirit of the Mannheim school and also drew from folk sources. He wrote 104 symphonies, 24 operas and a large number of trios, quartets, concertos and solo works. His greatest works include his Creation and The Four Seasons . The names of some of his symphonies document the circumstances during which they were written ( Prague, Oxford, La Chasse etc. Joseph Haydn was a person full of elan, optimism and creativity.
     The Italian 'cellist and composer Luigi Boccherini (19.2.1743, Lucca - 28.5.1805, Madrid) came from the artistically oriented family of 'cellist Leopold Boccherini. His brother was a poet (he wrote librettos for Haydn and Salieri in Vienna) and a dancer; his sister was a ballerina. Luigi himself first studied music with his father and, later, with F.Vanucci. He gave his first public concert when he was thirteen which was followed by a brief spell in Rome. At the end of 1757 he father was given a post in Vienna and his son followed. Boccherini visited Vienna three times in all. He set off on a concert tour in 1766. He also went to Paris where he published several of his works. Three years later he settled in Madrid where the leading personality of musical life was another Italian, Gaetano Brunetti. He was there became acquainted with the Prussian prince Friedrich Wilhelm, the ambassador in Spain, also a 'cellist who showed a lively interest in music and thus commissioned the composer with more and more new works. Boccherini was kept busy with commissioned works right until the end of his life. He died and was buried in Madrid but, in 1927, his remains were transferred to Lucca. Boccherini wrote mostly chamber works: he wrote more than 100 string quintets, almost as many string quartets and hundreds of other chamber works. His vocal works include two oratorios, three cantatas, one opera and the chamber work Stabat Mater. Boccherini is, however, above all the chief representative of Italian instrumental music during the time of Viennese Classicism.

Jan Šimon 

A Fresh Breeze
At first sight it might seem that the reason this record was brought out was to seek commercial success. However, this is not the case. This record is a challenge. A challenge to prove that the principles we formulated and which we feel, could refresh and enrich the interpretation of music from the Classical period and that they indeed also have their function in these works which have been performed thousands of times and have become notoriously well?known. Today, the concept of Classicism is a synonym for rigidity of form, symmetry of feeling and the tedious tolerance of every repetition. However, during its time, infected by the new opportunities of the freedom of man, it was a discovery of another dimension: the revelation of a tonal order of a world which had once more become clear. To the audiences who perceived it as something new, it seemed like a miracle of purification from complex Baroque counterpoint, from the asymmetry of intertwining snakey melodies and unending fugues. As a change in today's world it brings with it a purification of waste, even at that time the crystallic transparency of new music symbolised optimism for the future. If we realise that one of the originators of the thinking of that time was philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), who saw an example in nature as the remedy against a depraved civilisation, also emphasising naturalness, spontaneity and pure feeling in artistic endeavour, it is remarkable that these Classical ideals approach the phenomenological discovery of the natural world in times of ecological awareness. The Classical theorists always wrote about the discovery of natural feelings and states of the human soul. The fact that, today, music from the Classical period is considered dry and academic, shows a lack of understanding forthe period in which it was written, a period on which it had the effect of something ecstatic which brought rapturous rejoicing to the soul. The ensemble Pro arte antiqua Praha is currently working on several projects which attempt to unseal the door of convention and bring a fresh breeze to the dusty works of the Classical composers. Our new conception of authenticity, apart from involving the use of period instruments, strings and bows, also concerns the endeavour to grasp the psychological factors which lead to our achieving the potency of this music once more. One of the most important means to this revival is tempo. It would be better to reproduce the works from this period as fast as the best professionals were able to perform them, rather than perform them insipidly like the amateur music?lovers from the salons. They are written in such a way that they can be used commercially in both ways. This music, with its various possibilities, is characterised by just as much virtuosity and contrast as that written by the Romantic composers (including Paganini); however, it is seen in a different way: in the sophistication of detail and the sudden changes of mood in short symmetrical sections and in the fine tempo of the rubato melodies based on motory energy. After all, dexterity is the attempt to approach impossibility and this idea is always entrancing...Another of the means we employ is a resistance to sentimentality, particularly in the slow movements which, in a Romanticising conception, tend towards the established ritardandos at the close of the work and to excessive vibrato. Instead, we try to bring out the decorative features and variations in the works in the manner which was still common for the great performances of the time. From a practical point of view, the transparency of structure and prevalence of homophonousfeatures allowed a much greater measure of variational enrichment and free interpretation of the phrases than Baroque polyphony. It wasn't until the late stages of Viennese Classicism and the works of Beethoven that this was considered superfluous, particularly because the music was becoming again more complex. It is known that Mozart himself also modified the second repetition of his adagios and proceeded to work with unrelated music quite freely. The genuine ideals of Classicism are a natural beauty, vigour, joy and not the Rococo pervertedness of little dances written by the incompetent composers of the early gallant style. Classical music is the music of strength, harmony and enlightenment ? this means an understanding for natural processes and their effect on man. We want to bring back these original objectives to this music in order that it also cross the threshold of the consciousness of the modern audience and leaves within him a trace of its ideal. This is, in fact, the reason why we study early music, because we believe that a look into the past may influence the future. And Classicism is one of the attempts to create a vision of a world which should become the original garden of paradise, full of the blossoming trees of knowledge...

Václav Návrat 

© 2HP Production, October 2017
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