180 Days With Mozart And Me

A Survey Of The Philips Complete Mozart Edition…From Symphonies Through Theatre And Ballet Music

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Of Ends Approaching and Musics Unliked (Theatre and Ballet Music, Box 17)

June 7th, 2010 · No Comments · Ballet music from Idomeneo, Bernhard Klee, Box 17: Theatre and Ballet Music, David Zinman, Eberhard Buchner, Gisela Pohl, Hermann Christian Polster, K345, K367, Karin Eickstaedt, Mozart at 17, Mozart at 21, Mozart at 23, Mozart at 25, Munich (January 1781), Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Rundfunk-Solistenvereinigung Berlin, Staatskapelle Berlin, Thamos King of Egypt, Thamos Konig in Agypten, Theo Adam

Theatre and Ballet MusicToday is the second to the last CD from my six-month journey through Mozart’s music.

In all honesty, I’m going to be glad to see it end. These posts occupied 2-4 hours of my life every morning. Sometimes less. Sometimes more. But always there, every day. Rain or shine.

Yet, another part of me will be sad about wrapping things up tomorrow. I’ve learned a lot listening to Mozart. I gained an education in Classical music comparable to learning a foreign language by immersion.

But I’ll save my final comments for tomorrow, June 8th. That day marks not only the end of my study of Mozart’s music, but also an entire year’s worth of new discoveries.

Stay tuned.

Today’s CD is called Theatre & Ballet Music.

The first eight tracks comprise something called “Thamos, Konig in Agypten,” K345, which Mozart worked on, off and on, over the course of six years starting in 1773 when he was 17. He finished the piece in 1779 when he was 26. The title, in English, is “Thamos, King of Egypt.” Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the piece:

Thamos, King of Egypt (or King Thamos, in English; Thamos, König in Ägypten, in German) is a play by Tobias Philipp, baron von Gebler, for which, between 1773 and 1780, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote incidental music, K. 345/336a, of an operatic character.

Early performances
It is not known for certain whether the music that Mozart composed was performed with the play during his lifetime. The play’s première took place at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna, probably on 4 April 1774, by which time two choruses had been written. Performances in Salzburg in 1776 and 1779-80 may have incorporated the orchestral interludes and the three choruses in their final form, respectively. The music was re-used in 1783 in a different play (set in India, not Egypt), Lanassa, by Karl Martin Plümicke.

The only named role in Mozart’s music is that of Sethos, the high priest (baritone). There are parts for four other soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and bass) and for a chorus of priests and priestesses.

Thamos has succeeded his father, Ramesses, as king of Egypt, but Ramesses had usurped the throne from the rightful king, Menes, who is now disguised as the high priest, Sethos. Thamos loves Sais, a priestess, but she is really Menes’s daughter Tharsis, for whom the high priestess Mirza is plotting marriage to Pheron, a treacherous general. When Menes reveals his true identity, Pheron is struck by lightning and Mirza kills herself. Menes cedes his crown to Thamos and Tharsis as all ends happily.

The second offering on today’s CD is called “Ballet music for ‘Idomeneo,'” K367, which was written by Mozart when he was 25 or 26.

The background for Mozart’s opera Idomeneo can be found on Wikipedia.

Of these two compositions, I liked the second one better. Why? Because it featured no vocals. It was instrumental music. And mighty fine music at that.

I know there are some out there reading this who love opera, and single out Mozart’s operas in particular. I’m not one of them. I dislike 90% of opera, from Mozart or anyone. I just don’t like operatic singing as a general rule. I prefer to hear the music.

However, that said, I have appreciated discovering some of the opera singers on these wonderful Philips Mozart Compact Edition CDs. Some of these singers were so good I immediately sought out other CDs from them and bought them. Nicolai Gedda, for example.

So even though I haven’t been an ardent fan of Mozart’s operas, I totally appreciate some of the vocalists and musicians who performed them on these CDs.

Here is what I listened to today, complete with the best guesses of scholars regarding where and when each composition was penned. This information was pieced together from The Compactothèque book + CD, which is an essential purchase if you want the fullest enjoyment from the Philips Complete Mozart Edition. It’s only about $8 and the sampler CD, alone, is remarkably enjoyable. But the booklet is gold, Jerry! Gold! Keep in mind, some of these places and dates are merely guesses. But I find it fascinating to see even guesses for some of these compositions. They help me put Mozart’s life and creative output in perspective.

For example, Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756. With that in mind, take a look at where and when these pieces were composed. I’ll add Mozart’s approximate age in the parenthetical data below each composition:

1. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 1. Chorus: “Schon weichet dir, Sonne” (Eberhard Büchner)
2. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 2. Interlude (Maestoso – Allegro) (Berliner Staatskapelle)
3. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 3. Interlude (Andante) (Walter Weih)
4. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 4. Interlude (Allegro) (Berliner Staatskapelle)
5. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 5. Interlude (Allegro vivace assai) (Berliner Staatskapelle)
6. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 6. Chorus: “Gottheit, über alle mächtig” (Eberhard Büchner)
7. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 7a. Interlude (Berliner Staatskapelle)
8. Thamos, König in Ägypten, K.345 – 7b. Chorus: “Ihr Kinder des Staubes” (Theo Adam)
– Written over a period of six years, from 1773 through 1779

9. Ballet Music from “Idomeneo”, K.367 – 1a. Chaconne: Allegro (Netherlands Chamber Orchestra)
10. Ballet Music from “Idomeneo”, K.367 – 1b. Chaconne: Larghetto (Netherlands Chamber Orchestra)
11. Ballet Music from “Idomeneo”, K.367 – 1c. Chaconne: Allegro (Netherlands Chamber Orchestra)
12. Ballet Music from “Idomeneo”, K.367 – 2. Largo – Allegretto – Più allegro (Netherlands Chamber Orchestra)
13. Ballet Music from “Idomeneo”, K.367 – 3. Passepied (Netherlands Chamber Orchestra)
14. Ballet Music from “Idomeneo”, K.367 – 4. Gavotte
15. Ballet Music from “Idomeneo”, K.367 – 5. Passacaille
– Munich, January 1781 (Mozart was 25 or 26 depending on the date in January)

Overall, this wasn’t one of my favorites in this last box of Mozart CDs.


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