Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mozart - Symphony No. 25 In G Minor K. 183/173dB

Wolfgang Mozart was only seventeen years old when he wrote his 25th Symphony in G minor. Not only had he written 25 symphonies by then, he had written about 175 other compositions as well.

Mozart and his father Leopold had traveled to Vienna in the summer of 1773 and while there the young composer heard many works from contemporary composers. While he was influenced by many, he was especially influenced by the works of Joseph Haydn and the now almost forgotten Czech composer Johann Wanhal. The 25th Symphony In G Minor is in the Sturm und Drang style of Haydn's symphonies of the time, and is one of only tw osymphonies in minor keys written by Mozart, with the other being Symphony No. 40, also written in G minor. To differentiate between the two works Symphony No. 25 is sometimes referred to a the Little G Minor Symphony.

Mozart composed the work in the fall of 1773 in Salzburg

It is Mozart's earliest symphony that found a place in the active concert repertoire. It is scored for two oboes, two bassoons, four horns, and the usual strings. It is in four movements:

I. Allegro con brio -  The movement begins with a short 4-bar section that appears to be an introduction but is actually part of the first theme. The violins and violas play a syncopated figure across the bar lines while the basses play on the beat which creates tension while the oboes play the outline of the beginning of the theme in whole notes. The first theme continues with an upward arpeggiated G minor chord in the style of a Mannheim Rocket:
The theme is repeated and slightly varied as a solo oboe plays the whole note outline while the strings play an accompaniment that is not syncopated. After a short transition, a second theme is played by the violins in the key of B-flat major:
A transition section of arpeggiated chords in tremolo strings leads to a third theme in the strings and also in B-flat major:
Another transition section of arpeggiated chords in tremolo is played by the strings and the exposition is repeated. The short development section continues the arpeggiated chords and tremolos until the opening outline of the theme in whole notes played by the oboe alternate with outbursts from the orchestra. The horns signal the end of the development as the recapitulation begins with the first theme. The second theme modulates to the home key of G minor, as does the third theme. A short coda brings back the first theme and expands the syncopated section until the viol;ins play a figure in running 16th notes as the horns lead to the end.

II. Andante -  A simple theme in E-flat major is heard in the strings and echoed in the bassoons.  The music is relatively tension free and is a a short respite from the tension and stress of the other three movements.

III. Menuetto & Trio -  Mozart goes back to the home key with a minuet that has a subtle hint of tension brought about by dymanic attacks of forte-piano (loud then suddenly soft). The trio is in G major and is written for the woodwinds and horns.

IV. Allegro -  Written in sonata form, the tension of the first movement returns with all four horns, syncopations and a first theme firmly in G minor. A second theme flirts with B-flat major. A short development section creates further tension and leads to the recapitulation. All the themes are repeated in the home key of G minor. The horns play a prominent part, a dramatic string part is added upon the repeat of the first theme by the horns. A short coda brings the symphony to a close.

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