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Category: Mozart

English Suite No 3 in G Minor – Bach


   “Suite Fibonacci (2003) 

           Charles Bezie


before I say much more about his Cello
Suites, let me point out that Bach has
some French Suites, some English 
Suites, on top of similarly structured 
Partitas and Toccatas, the French have 
their tout de suites, and hotels have, 
nowadays, their so named luxury 

musical suites are sets of dance pieces, 
by the early 18th Century much stylized, 
with an introductory prélude, an allemande, 
followed by a courante, which is to say, folk 
dances, the first German, the next French, 
then a sarabande, Spanish, followed by a 
couple of galanteries, court dances, 
minuets, gavottes, bourrées, then a final 
English gigue

all of the markings are in French, which
leads me to believe that all of these 
dances must’ve originated at the court 
of Louis XlVth, the Sun King, 1638 to 

but the suggestion is that Europe was 
becoming an integrated community
all of these dances were eclipsed by
the Classical Period, of Haydn and 
Mozart, apart from the minuet, which 
more or less defined, nevertheless, 
that new era

the minuet will die out by the time of
Beethoven, you’ll note, to be replaced
by the waltz, which had been 
considered much too racy until 
transformed by Chopin into a work 
of ethereal art

the Strausses, father and son, gave it,
only a little later, celebratory potency,
but that’s another story

here’s Bach’s English Suite, the 3rd
for context, the French ones are a 
little too salty, as it were, they do not 
quite conform to prescribed suite 
notionshowever might their 
propositions have been, ahem, 

meanwhile, enjoy this one

R ! chard


what’s up in Pyeongchang / Bach


      “The Cello Player (1896) 

              Thomas Eakins


though I’d considered presenting all six
of Bach’s Cello Suites – your one stop
shopping for these extraordinary 
compositions – even one only of these
masterpieces floored me each time I
individually listened  

why the Suites, cause I couldn’t follow 
up on Beethoven’s Opus 5, for cello
and piano accompaniment, without 
saying more about the cello, by then 
an instrument of some significance, 
and who could argue, it’s resonance 
thrills you in your bones, in your very 

Frederick ll, King of Prussiaplayed it, 
earning for him tailored compositions, 
however controversial, from both 
Mozart and Haydn, but even earlier, 
Bach had composed definitive pieces 
for it, much as he’d done for the 
harpsichord, precursor to the piano, 
students of either still go to Bach for 
their basics, their intricate, exquisite, 
technical proficiency

the cello can play one note only at a
time, which means that, like a voice, 
you’re working without harmony, 
you need to make your own, 
otherwise your performance is 
boring, no one else, as far as I know,
has ever written anything else for 
unaccompanied cello, not even 

I find most performers lend Bach a 
more Romantic air, torrid emotion,
excesses of volume, pauses to the 
pace, ritardandos, rallentandos, 
which aren’t appropriate to the 
more genteel Baroque period,
something I usually find 

but in this performance, I’m sure 
not even Bach would object

I’m offering up first the Sixth Cello
Suite, D major, played by Jian Wang
someone I’d never heard of, in a 
dazzling performance in Pyeongchang
place I’d neither ever heard of, until 
only very recently

it appears both of these new kids on 
the block ought to be on the map

R ! chard

Mozart / Haydn in 1790


                                 “Prussian Homage (1796)

                                       Marcello Bacciarelli


it’s 1790, a year after the French Revolution, 
and both Mozart and Haydn are peddling 
their wares, Mozart to the King of Prussia, 
Friedrich Wilhelm ll, who’d commissioned 
some string quartets, as well as piano 
works for his daughter, but wasn’t paying 
Mozart off for them, where Haydn with the
help of Johann Tost, was hustling his stuff
in very, of all places, Paris 

Haydn’s, incidentally, own Prussian Quartets,
dedicated to the same King of Prussia, were  
sold to two different publishers, one in
Vienna, the other in England, commercial
transactions left essentially, for all it might 
matter to us, for lawyers, and potentates, I
expect, eventually to have resolved

it is my habit to juxtapose two things always
to be able to see each more critically, 
determining my favourite sharpens my 
aesthetic pencil, one looks more closely at
what distinguishes one work from the other

therefore Mozart’s String Quartet no 22 in 
B flat major, KV 589, up against Haydn’s 
no 53 in D major, opus 64, no 5, “The Lark”, 
both written in the same year

it’s like comparing apples with oranges,
different fruit from the same nevertheless
genus, my favourite being lichee, so go 

it’ll be up to you to find your especially
preferred nutrient 

I‘ll just point out a few differences that
immediately set apart these, however 
similar, masterpieces for me, Mozart 
remains utterly Classical, relying on 
the established, by now, conditions of 
the string quartet, an entertainment for 
nobility, nothing at all controversial, 
where Haydn with his soaring notes 
for the first violin, followed by 
arabesques that define a personal 
agony, introduces drama into the 
equation, a music that speaks of 
sentiment, is pointing already towards 
the future, though I suspect he could 
never have imagined where, in the 
very next generation, Beethoven 
would take it

to look back, to look forward, that is 
the question, it’s not always an easy 

but this is where art speaks to us, 
reminding us of our tendencies, 
defining, truly, eventually, who we 
veritably are, according to our 
individual choices, preferences, 
for better or for worse, rendering 
the world an ever effulgent garden 
rather than a dour mausoleum

R ! chard


Cyprien Katsaris in Budapest


       Cyprien Katsaris


if there’s only one concert you see 
this week – I would’ve said this year 
but I have way too many irresistible 
concerts to promote – make it this 
one, like none I’ve ever seen before, 
Cyprien Katsaris, who wowed us in 
my last encomium, delivers, not one, 
but two concertos, when emotionally 
I can usually deal with only one

but you can pause between the pieces, 
like I did, to wipe a tear or two away 
after the adagios, which remind me,
always, of my beloved, John

but that’s another story

Katsaris starts with an improvisation,
which he elucidates as an art form 
much more expertly than I would, 
then delivers stunning rendition of
his mastery of that gift 

though I couldn’t identify the first part
of it, the melting melody in the last 
section of his homage to, essentially, 
the Romantic Period, rushed back 
memories for me of a piece I could 
never forget, the music from Fellini’s 
heartbreaking masterpiece La Strada 
– listen, listen – right out of Romantic 
Period idioms, its very story evenlike 
Dickens’ Oliver Twist“, his Little Nell 
from the The Old Curiosity Shop“, 
staples of my adolescence, married  
to a nearly mythic lyrical invention 

let me add that improvisations have 
been an integral part of concertos for 
a very long time, the cadenzas, an 
interpolation by the performing artist, 
hir riff, a strutting of hir stuff, late  
in the, usually final, movement, a 
consequence, incidentally, of the 
more forward, individualistic, 
18th-Century progression towards 
individual rights, some left to the 
performing artist, but many 
prescribed by the composer himself,
where, here, I must, gender sensitive 
myself, unceremoniously interject to 
explain my deference to the
designation above, himself“, to male 
merely composers, who were then the 
only ones, however culturally ignobly, 
to nevertheless shape our quite, 
think, extraordinary musical trajectory, 
for better, of course, or for worse

in this instance, I suspect Katsaris 
wrote his own cadenzas for the 
Mozart, notice his arm at the end of 
the first movement fly up in an 
especial transport, and in the last 
movement, watch his very 
exuberance mark the spot, but 
couldn’t put it past Mozart to have 
written something so historically 

Bach, incidentally, wasn’t doing 
cadenzas, so don’t look for them 

the two concertos that follow the 
improvisation, Bach’s, my favourite 
of his – you’ll understand why when 
you hear it – then Mozart’s 21st – 
everyone’s favourite – are both 
played transcendentally 

consider the difference in period, 
the earlier Baroque, with Bach’s 
notes skipping along inexorably,
the pace required by the 
harpsichord, which didn’t have 
hold pedals to allow notes to 
resonate, the music moves along
therefore nearly minimalistic tracks, 
a pace, and musical motif, that don’t 
stop, they keep on chugging, until 
they reach their destination, their,
as it were, station, or even their


Mozart’s music is as effervescent,
but conforms to a different cadence,
where a theme is presented, then a
musical, and contrasting, second,
with recapitulation, sometimes
merely partial, which is to say that
the call and response dynamic of 
the dance, or for that matter, by 
extension, modern ballads, is  
being established, codified, and 

an era has intervened

then as an encore, Katsaris delivers,
not a cream puff, but Liszt, of all 
people, we’re used to performers
giving us trifles at this point, but not

then to top it all off, he plays the Chopin 
you thought you’d never ever hear again, 
but here immaculate and utterly 

the orchestra alone performs after the 
intermission, works by Ravel and Bizet,
surprisingly similar, I thought, the two
composers, in their musical idiom, the 
use of the winds as metaphors, for 
instance, for originality, eccentricity, 
unmitigated poetry within the context 
of what is not unnatural

neither is either composer adverse to 
atonality, they work in textures, instead 
of melodies, all of which is very 
Impressionistic, see of course Monet
and others for historical reference

did I say I want to be Cyprien Katsaris 
when I grow up, well there, it’s said,
he’s lovely 

R ! chard


String Quartet in B flat, Opus 55, no 3 – Haydn


                      “Queen Marie Antoinette of France (1783) 

                                Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun


first of all, let me grievously repent an
egregious confusion I probably left
in my last diatribe, I said that the second
movement of the Opus 54, no 2 sounded 
to me like a minuet, I had, through 
embarrassing inattention, confused its,
however unmemorable, adagio with that
of this Opus 55, no 3, which I’d listened 
to in too quick succession, driven as I 
am by my thirst for epiphanies

the Opus 54, no 2 will do, but I’m not 
going back for seconds, nor to the 
Opus 55, no 3, though here’s where  
I flaunt nevertheless Haydn, not to 
mention Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, 
all the way to eventually Bruckner, 
Brahms, the extraordinary Richard
Wagner, passing through Schubert,
Mendelssohn, the Strausses, father
and son, and the unrelated Strauss,
Richard, another incontrovertible 
giant, and I nearly left out the 
unforgettable Liszt, all of them 
forefathers of our present music

you might have noticed that these 
are all Germanic names, obedient 
to the Hapsburg empire, with 
Vienna as its supreme cultural 
capital, and it was that 
Austro-Hungarian dynasty that
indeed nearly single-handedly 
secured our Western musical 

a few Italians are remembered,
from the 18th Century, Scarlatti 
maybe, Boccherini, Albinoni
but not many more 

no one from France, but they were 
about to have a revolution, not a 
good time for creative types,
though, incidentally, Haydn was 
getting Tost, to whom he was 
dedicating his string quartets for 
services rendered, to sell his stuff 
in very Paris 

then again, Marie Antoinette, I thought, 
was Austrian, an even archduchess, 
and would’ve loved some down-home 
music at nearby Versailles

so there you are, there would’ve been 

the English had Handel, of course,
who was, albeit, German, getting 
work where he could when you 
consider his competition, he was 
too solemn and plodding by half,
to my mind, for the more 
effervescent, admittedly Italianate, 
continentals, Italy having led the 
way earlier with especially its 
filigreed and unfettered operas

but here’s Haydn’s Opus 55, no 3
nevertheless, the best Europe had
to offer, socking it to them

Haydn’s having a hard time, I think, 
moving from music for at court to
recital hall music, music for a much
less genteel clientele, however 
socially aspiring, we still hear 
minuets, and obeisances all over 
the place, despite a desire to 
nevertheless dazzle, impress

then again, I’m not the final word, as
my mea culpa above might express, 
you’ll find what eventually turns 
your own crank, floats your own 
boat, as you listen

which, finally, is my greatest wish

R ! chard


Partita no 2, BWV 1004 – J.S. Bach


         Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen


if I haven’t spoken much about Bach
until now it’s that, although he is at 
the very start of our modern music,
having in fact set up its very alphabet,
the scale we’ve been using since, he 
is nevertheless as different from our 
own era in music as Shakespeare is 
to us in literature, both are stalwarts,
but we no longer say, for instance, 
thee or thou, nor write in iambic 
pentameter, nor do we dance 
gavottes at court, nor congregate 
at church to hear cantatas

the turning point is the Enlightenment,
also called the Age of Reason, when 
the concept of God was being 
questioned, if not even debunked, and
the mysteries of nature were being 
rationally resolved, handing authority
to knowledgeable individuals instead
of to popes

by the time of Mozart and Haydn, a
secular tone was gradually pervading 
all of the arts, devoid of any religious 
intentions, sponsors were private 
rather than clerical  

Bach had indeed been hired by a prince,
Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen, but was 
appointed court musician at his ducal 
chapel, Nikolaus l, Prince Esterházy 
wanted Haydn’s music, rather, for his 
court entertainment, and for himself 
as well, incidentally, as a fellow baryton 

Mozart was also employed by a prince,
but left when he wasn’t being payed 

times haven’t changed much, see 
Trump, for instance

after the French Revolution, there was
not much call for religious music, 
human rights took the place of God, 
liberté, égalité, fraternité, and all that, 
not to mention the American Bill of 
Rights, and that’s the route we’ve 
been following ever since, for better 
or for worse 

but hey, we’re still reading Shakespeare,
and still listening to Bach, and loving 
both of them, some of us

here’s some more Bach for old times’
sake, his Partita no 2 for solo violin

a partita is just a series of dance suites 
– an allemande, a courante, a sarabande, 
a gigue, and a chaconne, in this case – I 
don’t think anyone other than Bach ever 
wrote some, but his are sublime

it’s kind of like my calling my own 
stuff prosetry, for whatever infinity 
that word might ever deliver, though
no one else might ever use that term

listen also to a transposition of its
celebrated last movement, the 
Chaconnefor left-hand piano, in 
this instance, as transposed by 
Brahms, a precursor to Ravel’s 
Concerto in G major for the Left
Hand, written for Paul  
Wittgensteinan already 
accomplished pianist – the much 
more famous philosopher, 
Ludwig‘s, brother – who’d lost his 
right hand during the First World 
War, and who’hopefully be 
inspired, by such positive 

art, music, poetry thrives on such 
heartfelt expressions of sympathy,
compassion, communion

art is the faith that we rely on now 
that God/dess is gone 

R ! chard


Easter Oratorio – J.S.Bach


   “Easter Angel (1959) 

          Salvador Dali


                                  for Elizabeth, 
                                      who needs an oratorio right now,
                                           and who takes great comfort, 
                                                 she tells me, in this music

if The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour 
on the Cross is not a divertimento, it 
nevertheless didn’t come out of nowhere,
and a clue to its inspiration lies in the 
eventual transposition of the orchestra 
only piece to, a few years later, the piece 
with voice, its oratorio

Haydn had heard his original composition
rendered in a nearby provincial town, where
they’d added lyrics, however saccharine, to
the score, and he thought it entirely effective 
and appropriate, had new less sanctimonious 
lyrics composedand gave us what we now 

oratorios go back quite a while, not 
surprisingly, they are quintessentially 
religious music, meant to inspire, a 
familiar convocational ploy, Bach and 
Handel made them especially immortal
in the early 18th Century

listen to Bach’s Easter Oratorio to see,
to hear rather, the connection to Haydn,
though you might not even notice much
significant difference, they’ve as many 
movements more or less, nine for Haydn,
Bach’s has eleven, but all the forces are 
the same, and in the same order

that Bach’s oratorio would be more 
joyous is not surprising, the occasion for 
the Easter Oratorio is one of celebration,
where The Words is more lugubrious, it 
describes a portentous demise, dance 
rhythms therefore are not in the former 

its dances, however, are rather gavottes
and sarabandes instead of the later 
minuets, a not not instructive alteration 
when you think that minuets not much
later than Haydn had become waltzes,
more about that later

in the Easter Oratorio“, the story is told
by the singers, whereas in The Seven 
Last Words“, the music is doing the 
telling, secured by the fact that the piece
was originally written without singers

The Words is more dramatic, more
use of contrasting volumes and tempi,
the piano hadn’t been invented at the 
time of Bach, long notes couldn’t be 
accommodated on the harpsichord,
which determined the pace of the plot,
the piano allowed with its soft pedal 
a moderation in volume, and with its 
hold pedal a moderation of a note’s 
resonance, which allowed for more 
expansive expression, which led 
eventually, nearly inescapably, to 
the Romantic Period, after passing, 
of course, through, Mozart and

but listen to what Bach can do 
without these later interventions,
proof that a poet can inspire with 
merely matchstick, the second 
aria itself – My soul, the spice that 
embalms you shall no longer be 
myrrh – for soprano and baroque 
flute, spare as it is instrumentally, 
is manifestly entirely worth the 
priceless price of admission 

R ! chard


Divertimento no 17, K334 – Mozart


Minuet with Pantaloon and Colombine, from the Room of Carnival Scenes
                                                                                                       in the Foresteria (1757)

     Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo


already I can hear you asking, why is
The Seven Last Words“, with its nine
already movements, not a divertimento,
you’ll cry 

a divertimento is an entertainment, it 
doesn’t have the gravitas of Haydn’s 
composition, a sacred work, a 
divertimento is meant to delight

The Seven Last Words“, therefore,
by definition is not a divertimento,
it’s a completely different idea of a
piece with several movements, it 
has profoundly ulterior intentions,
following, rather, in the tradition of
Bach’s oratorios, though it had 
originally been conceived without 
words, the prelate in this work 
would be doing the talking

the piece gives itself a theme, a 
focus, a project, creating something 
like chapters in a book 

or think of the Stations of the Cross 
a metaphorically more apt, perhaps, 
unifying principle, instead of just a 
series of disparate airs, like singles 
were on albums until Pink Floyd 
similarly revolutionized music with 
a topic during my generation, The
Wall, with a little preparatory help
albeit, from the Beatles, earlier,
our friends

here’s Mozart, nevertheless, in order 
to compare, his Divertimento no 17,  
K334giving the aristocracy what 
they still, in 1780, wanted, something 

you’ll notice there are not just one 
but two minuets in the program, both 
with recapitulations, sure sign that 
we’re still in the Classical Era, though 
the minuet will die off as quickly as 
the divertimento will in the following 
decades, relics, both, of an earlier era

and indeed this is Mozart’s last for 
small orchestra, divertimenti would be 
composed from here on as merely 
tributes to an earlier period and its 
musical formulas

masses and oratorios would go the same 
way, incidentally, with some resurgence 
in the following centuries from a couple 
of Catholic organists who left profound 
influences individually on later centuries

but more about them later

meanwhile, here’s Mozart, feel the 
gentility, his genuflexion to propriety 
rather than to faith

R ! chard


String Quartet no. 38 in E♭major, Op. 50, No. 3 – Haydn


         Frederick William II of Prussia


if there’s a difference that I can detect 
between both these “Prussian” string
quartets, the No. 21 of Mozart, Haydn’s
38th, the somewhat more boisterous 
voice of the youthful Mozart up against 
the more deferential, the more precisely 
filigreed, manner of Haydn, the more 
consummate courtier of the two via his 
actual, and constant, presence at the 
Esterházy court

Mozart is somewhat less genteel, less
mercurial, I think

both sets, six in each, were originally 
dedicated to the King of Prussia,
William ll, Haydn’s in 1787, Mozart’s 
in 1789, though each had unfortunate 
legal, and controversial outcomes 

it’s not so much the specificity of each
other’s talent at this point that settles 
their ultimate significance, but that 
their invention, the form, the structure,  
has lasted already two hundred years, 
the might of their prowess has inspired 
inexhaustibly our culture

Mozart and Haydn built the house that
our music now stands on, working, of 
course, from earlier, even glorious, 
standards, culture  – music, art, 
literature – is like a tree, growing 
organically from its local soil, our
Western earth has become 
historically especially significant,  
we could be listening to Chinese 
opera for instance now had we been 
born, however arbitrarily, in that 
culture, for better or for worse we are 
in our ever evolving ours, our 21st 
global century, and the Classical Era 
is pretty well where it all began for us 

it was also called the Age of 
Enlightenment, Mozart and Haydn 
were doing their particular part

let me add that the term “Classical”
applies only to the music of that 
period, it is not the period of 
Classical art, for instance, nor of
Classical literature, the term 
“Classical” refers to the originality
of the product and its historical
resilience, we speak of Classical 
Greece, for instance, for its 
sprouting of our Western culture,
our literature, our sculpture, our
architecture, our very philosophy

after the Age of Enlightenment, we 
get the Romantic Period

wait till you hear about that

R ! chard 


String Quartet no 19 in C major, K465 (“Dissonance”) – Mozart


                    “Queen Marie Antoinette of France (1783)  

                              Louise Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun


if Mozart’s 19th String Quartetthe last of 
his Haydn Quartets, the six he indeed 
dedicated  to Haydn, sounds less 
deferential than one would have thought 
for the period, it should be remembered 
that the American Revolution had just
taken place, in 1776, the French one was 
about to, in 1789, and even the more 
aristocratic houses in Europe would not
have been unaffected, Mozart was young,
29, and astir with confidence and bravura,
it was 1785

Haydn had had his moment earlier, his
Opus 20, which went on to revolutionize 
music if not countries, but had retreated 
to a less emboldened political stance 
as he grew older, while concentrating 
rather on his more important muse, and 
refining his ear for precise, pure music,
which is to say devoid of any but polite
sentiments, delight and lyrical 
melancholy only

in Mozart’s 19th String Quartet, even the 
minuet is peremptory, not something 
you’d especially want to dance to,
however musically accomplished

he starts the first movement with, of all 
things, an adagio, however briefly, which 
could’ve been disastrous, you need to 
know what you’re doing when you open
with a lament

incidentally, all the instruments in the
opening adagio are playing in different 
keys, resolved when the allegro kicks 
in, this is why it’s called “Dissonance”,
something in and of itself of a 
rebellious act 

the 19th is also twice the length of 
Haydn’s nearest earlier one, his Opus 42,
expansive rather than terse, for whatever
that might mean, the point is to keep us
throughout interested, which he does, 
they do

Mozart is prefiguring hereincidentally,
Beethoven, with his audacity, his 
sense of an ideological mission, and  
he’s mightily impressive


R ! chard