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Aged twenty-three and travelling around Europe, Mozart was no longer the ‘boy wonder’.
For someone who had been touring, on and off, since he was in single figures, twenty-three represented almost the autumn of his touring career. And despite the pitfalls of no longer being the cute child star, the benefits of his touring years did occasionally pay off. This is one such example.
With his Sinfonia Concertante, Mozart delivers a veritable masterclass in the then modern-day techniques of the European ensemble – as witnessed, first hand, by the travelling Wolf-gang. Mozart had heard the highly respected Mannheim court orchestra play on a number of occasions and he gained a huge amount of knowledge and understanding of orchestras and their players from working with them. Most composers would know of this sort of orchestra only by reputation, but Mozart had gained intimate knowledge by sitting right next to the string section when he had performed with them.
A musical note to add to this entry: when this work was originally performed, the viola player would have needed to detune his instrument by one note to play the music that Mozart had written. Today, it doesn’t happen so often.
Rachel Podger (violin); Pavlo Beznosiuk (viola); Orchestra of the Age of enlightenment. Channel Classics: CCSSA29309.
Illustration: Mark Millington