domingo, 6 de noviembre de 2022

Mozart in Italy, the first trip / Divertimento

Between 1769 and 1773, Mozart made three visits to Italy, accompanied by his father Leopold on all three occasions. The first trip was the most extensive. And also the most profitable if we only consider the number of commissions received by the young fourteen-year-old composer in the many cities they visited. They left Salzburg on December 13, 1769. After 15 months of sharing with the Italian nobility and the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries – for whom Wolfgang played the harpsichord and conducted orchestras –, father and son returned to Salzburg in March 1771, inebriated with Italian music and art.

Return to Milan
The successful tour soon reached the Imperial Palace in Vienna. And then it was decided to invite Wolfgang to write an opera to be performed in Milan in October 1771 to celebrate the betrothal of Archduke Ferdinand (son of Maria Theresa of Austria and brother of poor Marie Antoinette, who would later meet the guillotine) and Princess Beatrice of Modena. So a few months after returning home, the Mozart family had to leave again, this time for Milan, where they stayed for three months. The opera (Ascanio in Alba) was a resounding success, for Mozart was able to count on the best singers and the most outstanding instrumentalists who were delighted to take part in a work by the young Austrian genius.

The clarinet
Connected with those musicians, Mozart became aware of the preponderance in the Italian orchestras of an instrument that, apparently, the Austrian musicians did not recognize properly: the clarinet. And he set to work to correct the omission.
During his brief stay in Milan, Mozart composed two divertimenti in the style of the famous Italian divertimento. In both (in E-flat and B-flat), a pair of clarinets have outstanding participation, dialoguing, almost comically, with the English horns, the horns, or the bassoon.

Divertimento in E-flat major, K. 113
There are two versions of the work. One, dated Milan, November 1771, for two clarinets, two horns, and strings. The other, for wind ensemble only, excluding the clarinet, bears no date or place of composition. It is presumed that the first one obeys the Italian taste, written for the Milanese. The second is for his fellow countrymen since Mozart would not have had clarinets at his disposal in Salzburg. The discussion is ongoing. 

The first version is presented here, performed by the German C.P.E. Bach Orchestra, conducted by Hartmut Haenchen.

0:00  Allegro
3:17  Andante
6:20  Menuetto
7:51  Trio - Allegro

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