This spring Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) musicians under the direction of artistic director harpsichordist Paul Dyer AM, will on September 9 and 10 in Melbourne and from September 13 – 23 in Sydney, present Haydn Mozart & Friends featuring guest soloists’ Belgian period horn player Bart Aerbeydt and Australia’s leading Barque cellist, Jamie Hey.
ABO musicians are about as brave as it gets on period instruments, whose gut strings and mellow timbers help them to present marvellous historical melodies that linger in the heart, mind and soul for a very long time.
Austrian Composers Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) despite their age difference were friends, known to have often played impromptu concerts together. Inspired by each other’s work, it was Mozart who declared he learned from Haydn how to write quartets, dedicating a superb set of six such works to his “beloved friend.”
Haydn’s music reveals the impact of his younger friend, the mature composer a man by no means set in his ways, a man who remained flexible and always open to new ideas. It was 1785 when Haydn said to Mozart’s father Leopold “… your son is the greatest composer known to me in person or by name; he has taste, and what is more the greatest knowledge of composition.”
Music is the audible sign of life and vital to our inner well-being. On this concert’s program the uplifting Sinfonia in E-flat Major composed by German violinist, composer, and Kapellmeister of the Classical era Johann Christian Innocenz Bonaventura Cannabich (1731-1798), will serve as an introduction to works by Haydn and Mozart.
During an age that witnessed the rebirth of the antique through the genius of the German composers, Mozart met and played with Cannabich at the court of a patron of arts and letters Charles Theodore, Prince Elector Palatine at Mannheim, a city in southwest Germany on the Rhine and Neckar rivers.
Elector Charles Theodore (1724-1799) himself a capable musician, was instrumental in ensuring his court became an active centre for arts and cultural evolution, reflecting both his ducal desires and tastes.
Cannabich visited Paris regularly where he met the Mozart family on their grand tour from November 1763-April 1764. The pair then met several times over a period of twenty years, during a time when the Mannheim orchestra was heralded as one of the most famous in all Europe.
Contemporaries praised Cannabich as “a born Konzertmeister”. He studied in Rome and Milan, before becoming first violinist in the court orchestra, marrying a lady of the bedchamber to the Duchess of Zweibrucken, gaining further support and attention.
Mozart relayed to his father Leopold how Cannabich was the best director he had ever seen.
Mozart wrote home … “I must now tell you about the music here. On Saturday, All-Saints’ day, I attended high mass. The orchestra is very good and numerous. On each side ten or eleven violins, four tenors, two hautboys, two flutes, and two clarionets, two corni, four violoncellos, four bassoons, and four double basses, besides trumpets and kettle-drums. This should give fine music…”
As with many musical gems from his era, Cannabich’s Sinfonia in E Flat major has an appealing palette of colours with clarity and spontaneous charm abounding.
As a successful teacher Cannabich had a great influence on the future generation. He is considered to have been a true and useful friend to Mozart, whose friendship ensured he gained a lasting place in the history of music and in the hearts of music lovers.
Franz Joseph Haydn grew up in a humble music loving family, was a member of the local church choir and after gaining the attention of local nobility, extended his connections into the royal sphere.
Appointed conductor of the orchestra in the household of Prince Paul Anthony Esterhazy of Hungary and his successor Prince Nikolaus, Haydn was fortunate to stay for thirty years in a ‘delightful summerhouse’, his art benefiting from the peace and quiet. He is reported as saying ‘There was no one near to confuse me, so I was forced to become original”.
Wit, humour, joy and sorrow are all part of Haydn’s musical expression. In his hands music ‘shed its courtly etiquette’ and instead became an expression of the love of life.
Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major rediscovered in 1961, exploits the solo instrument and in a very short time it became integral to the cello repertoire. Over the years since it has been played with distinction by many of the world’s most acclaimed soloists.
Australia’s pre-eminent period cellist Jamie Hey performs with vigour and virtuosity on a mid-seventeenth century Italian four string cello and a five-string cello after Zaneto by Warren Nolan -Fordham of Melbourne. He also researches the instrument’s history, which is full of mystery, intrigue, history, politics and passion.
The art of violoncello playing became valued first in Italy, but became overpowered by the Italians love of opera. It was in Germany and France that composers went on to cultivate its solo playing as an art form.
The Harmoniemusik from the Singspiel Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio) by Mozart and his splendid Concerto for Horn No. 4 in E flat major K495 make up the rest of the program.
Mozart mastered almost every known musical form; symphonies, operas, songs, chamber music, concertos for soloists, piano concertos for himself and other instruments played by his colleagues.
The legacy of works by Mozart began in the Archbishopric of Salzburg, where music and religion were integral to his family’s daily life. By the time he was eight years of age Mozart was not only an accomplished piano, organ and violin player, but also had an adult knowledge of musical composition.
Mozart demonstrated his ability to write for a range of skill-sets whether instrumental or vocal. He never lost his ‘magic touch’ and in his music remained like a joyous child, the rock star musician of his day.
He had an extraordinary ability to create a beauty of sound, which combined fantasy with poetry in music, while balancing content and form. Notable features of his music are logic of construction and deep spirituality.
He composed his comedic gem Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail whose dialogue was interspersed with popular songs in 1782, the year he married and the year his mutually beneficial friendship with Joseph Haydn began. It enjoyed immediate and continuing success with some of his most demanding and entertaining music.
The story of the Emperor saying in the acclaimed movie Amadeus “… very many notes, my dear Mozart”, is because the work did have far more notes than any other work then in the German repertory. It also had much longer arias.
Period horn player Bart Aerbeydt plays as a soloist on the historical music scene and is first horn at the Freiburger Barockorchester (The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra) in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Bart Aerbeydt plays the natural horn, used extensively throughout the eighteenth century until the emergence of the valved horn during the early nineteenth century.
It consists of a mouthpiece, some long coiled tubing, and a large flared bell. Pitch changes are made through a few techniques including modulating the lip tension as with modern brass instruments and changing the position of the hand in the bell; hand-stopping.
Mozart’s Concerto for Horn No. 4 in E flat major K495 was written for his good friend horn player Ignaz Leitgeb (or Leutgeb) and today over 250 years later it still challenges a player using the latest valve technology.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
Cannabich Sinfonia in E-Flat major
Haydn Cello Concerto in C major, Hob.VIIb:1
Mozart Harmoniemusik of Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Mozart Concerto for Horn No. 4 in E flat major K495