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There is a wonderful scene – one of many – in the 1984 Milos Forman film adaptation of Peter Schaffer’s play Amadeus, in which the jealous Salieri sees the score of Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto and is simply bowled over, incredulous at how divine the melody and orchestration are. And he’s right.
The central slow movement must surely be one of the most glorious melodies not just in Mozart’s output but, possibly, in all music. Written as it was for a father and daughter combination to play (Mozart was trying, yet seemingly failing by all accounts, to teach composition to the daughter of the Duc de Guines), it represents the only time Mozart ventured to write for the unwieldy harp.
Some music historians have even suggested that Mozart was, pretty much, writing for piano and flute in his head. It was probably an attempt to get more money out of the Duc but, despite a good reception – ‘The Duc plays the flute incomparably, and she magnificently on the harp’ according to the composer – it was not to be.
Emmanuel Pahud (flute); Marie-Pierre Langlamet (harp); Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra; Claudio Abbado (conductor). EMI Classics: 5571282.