Complete Piano Trios
Vienna Mozart Trio
The new album with all works for piano trio by W.A. Mozart will be based on decades of performing experience of the Vienna Mozart Trio, the original handwritings of W.A. Mozart and will for the first time try to ignore all mistakes printed in common published editions . The recording sessions at the "Wavegarden" Studio in Lower Austria took place in February and April 2018.
In his handwriting, Mozart sometimes added an alternative version for a passage. Any of this ever made it into a published edition or a recording. You can see him writing Version a) and b) in the end of the E-Major Trio KV 542
Dactylus here, Appogiatura there
And additionally even the so called "Urtext" Editions don't respect Mozarts own markings. They add dynamics, change legato bows and always write the appogiatura note as a sixteenth note although Mozart used the South-German common form of crossing (and sometimes double-crossing) a normal queva.
The square piano ("Tafelklavier") has horizontal strings arranged diagonally across the rectangular case above the hammers and with the keyboard set in the long side, with the sounding board above a cavity in the short side. It is variously attributed to Silbermann and Frederici and was improved by Petzold and Babcock. The overwhelming popularity of his instruments was due to inexpensive construction and price.
Since almost ten years, I perform together with my parents Diethard and Irina Auner frequently in some of Europes most important concert halls. The Vienna Mozart Trio was founded 1991, and as the name already makes iclear - has performed Mozarts chambermusic non-stop in hundreds of performances throughout the world.
One of my last recording projects, "Dialog mit Mozart" - three sonatas for violin and piano with the pianist Robin Green, already focused on the chambermusic of W.A. Mozart. Already then we spent countless hours with Mozarts handwritings at the "Stifung Mozarteum" library in Salzburg - comparing the today common "Urtext" Editions from Bärenreiter and the "Neue Mozart Ausgabe" from 2006 with the actual handwriting and first print, finding many differences in between them and trying to unterstand why our tradition of playing Mozart became so different from what actually stands in his scores.
One of the first things you notice looking at the autograph of his piano trios is the different order of the voices. The violin is on top, the piano in the middle and the cello is being written under the piano score. Why? Our guess is that based on the size of a piano (or harpsichord) at Mozarts time (it was very small and lightweight - Mozart used to carry his own everywhere) the setup on "stage" was different, probably the cello was sitting next to the pianist where he could see and follow the left hand. The violinist was probably standing in the front. The cello voice is mostly going parallell to the bass line of the piano to support this voice, as the small pianos very much lacked of a powerful bass. We have performed several concerts at the musical instruments museum in Bruxelles. Before the collection went down into the today newly refurbished showrooms (and the instrments behind walls of glass) we were invited to play on them.
The fortepiano was already something very special and expensive. It has leather-covered hammers and thin, harpsichord-like strings. It has a much lighter case construction than the modern piano and, except for later examples of the early nineteenth century (already evolving towards the modern piano), it has no metal frame or bracing. The action and hammers are lighter, giving rise to a much lighter touch, which in well-constructed fortepianos is also very responsive. Mozart writes his trios (depending on who gave the order and what instrument this person had) for "pianoforte" or "cembalo".
Keeping this instrumentation in mind, many questions that occur looking at the handwritings already answer themselves. F.ex. why Mozart sometimes didnt write any dynamics. A harpsichord did not have many options for dynamics. Also the difference between playing notes legato and seperated was almost not audible. Remembering from my recording of the Violin Sonatas that as a violinist, Mozart wrote very exact bowings that should not be changed if not completely nessecary. Often he ment to play the second time a bar repeats itself with different bowings than the first time. The unusual up-bow on the first note of a second bar had to have less emphasis than the same note had in the first bar. Musical Period; 1st bar strong, 2nd bar light, 3rd bar strong (but less than 1st) and 4th bar the lightest of all of them.
So, keeping all of this in mind - should we not record the trios with a fortepiano, A= 421,6Hz with gut strings etc. ?
Well we could. But we would not be satisfied with the result. In our opinion a good pianist can play much better legati and phrasings as well as dynamic differences on a well adjusted modern grand piano than the best fortepiano player can - the instrument becomes a handicap. Imagine bringing Mozart into our time and letting him play a new Bösendorfer, Fazioli or Steinway. What would be his reaction? I think he would be very happy that we today have instruments at our hand that can make even more differences in sound than he ever dreamed of. The evolution of the piano from a harpsichord to todays concert grands was based on the needs of composers and their works. At the Ehrbar Palais in Vienna hangs an engraving on the wall, a quote by Franz Liszt; saying how happy he considers himself finally finding an instrument that can sustain a full concert. Interpretation-wise we will keep the original instrumentation in mind, especially when it comes to phrasing etc.
The recording process finished in the end of April 2018, we hope to publish the recording still 2018.
First print is sometimes available just digitally on the website of the nma, Neue Mozart Ausgabe
The famous library of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. All handwritings and first prints can be found here
At Mozarts time the stringed instruments used a hammerhead bow. I had the privilege to play several performances on Mozarts own bow.
Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo
under the scientific advisory of the Viennese musicologist and expert on the affect theory;
Prof. Dr. Dagmar Glüxam
Every violinist learns and studies the six sonatas for violin solo during his studies and normally this incredible genious music stays with us for the rest of our lives. But how to interpret Bachs music is becoming more and more difficult today, as we are more and more aware of what the common reception of baroque music was at this time.
What effect has the affect?
We are today so used to hear some of Bachs music played in a meditative character that it became a "tradition" to play f.ex. the Adagio of BWV 1001, the first piece in this cycle, very calm. But look at these fast notes, these modulations and strong dissonances. Sei Solo - translated into English - Be Solo, could also mean that he used these works to process the loss of his beloved wife Barbara Bach. Imagine hearing this Adagio played by an organ, Bachs favourite instrument. Calm?
Ludwig van Beethoven:
The Enigmas of his Violin Concerto Op 61
The Violin Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven Op 61 is one of todays most performed pieces for violin and orchestra and it was the first piece that I learned starting my master - studies at the Mozarteum Salzburg with Prof. Igor Ozim. He somehow managed to get a copy of the manuscript and brought it once into a lesson - as I found out there had been a facsimilie print published in the 60s that seems to be identical. When I then got my first engagement (and by far not my last) to perform this concerto with symphony orchestra in Albania with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra there, I started to meticulously compare the common Urtext Edition with the manuscript.
Unfortunately, even Urtext Editions make a lot of mistakes. If you compare their prints of f.ex. the Mozart sonatas and concertos to the handwriting and first print you will be really dissapointed by their generousity. Wrong dynamics (they add f and p in places where some musicologist thought it makes sense, just that it very often doesn't and the interpret has no idea that the markings are not original), wrong printed appogiaturas etc.
I had learned about this already recording my Dialog mit Mozart CD and am again working on correcting these "Urtext" editions for my upcoming recording of the complete piano trios.
Rehearsing the alternative Version with Bournemouth Symphony Orchesta under Marta Gardolinska in September 2019 at Poole Lighthouse Foto: @bsorchestra
But compared to what I found in the Beethoven concerto the "Urtext" mistakes in Mozarts works were quite insignificant. Although never mentioned in any edition it turned out that Beethoven wrote in many places, especially throughout the first and second movement of his concerto, an additional "ossia" violin part. When Beethoven did not want to use something that he wrote, if he f.ex. started a melody and decided to write it different, he crossed it out. With a lot of passion. But very often he left two possibilities in the end. Not always this other version offers any new musical material - mostly it shows differerent possibilities for the same material. If you play a repeating arpeggion in A major c2#-e2-c3# as a triplet or you divide it in 4 and play c2#-e2-c3#-e2 does not make any musical differences. So my guess is, that Beethoven, who wrote this violin concerto for Franz Clement, concertmaster and orchestra director at the Theather an der Wien, did choose together with the soloist which version made it into the first print. Many passages would also have been to high, to difficult. On the other side, some actually offer new musical material - like e.g. the beginning of the development of the first movement (VIDEO) - where in one of the most pure and magical places of classical music itself a different scale, much more playful and curious, followed my much more tense harmonical combinations than what we are used to hear create a different athmosphere. So I choosed sometimes the well-known version over the not printed one - as it does not make any musical difference, and Beethoven decided to print the other one. If the other material is i.m.h.o. more interresting than what we normally play, I am happy to take it. My own personal scores are full of small extra papers glued over the printed scores.
The top red marking are the three notes that we are used to hear and play today - just at the end of the first solo-violin entrance.
The lower red marking shows another possibility - playing a scale from a to a instead of an arpeggio.
There had been a third and fourth possibility for Beethoven, but he crossed them out quite drastically. But two versions stay.