Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mozart - Serenade No. 10 In B-flat Major 'Gran Partita' K. 361/370a

The Serenade in Mozart's time was a multi-movement work that could be written for any combination of instruments, although the majority of them written in that era were for wind instruments. They usually had more than four movements and were lighter music used for dinner parties, weddings, etc.  Serenades were very popular in the middle and late 18th century (along with the similar Divertimento) with Haydn and Mozart writing a large number of them.

The Serenade No. 10 was probably written in 1781-1782. It is written for 12 wind instruments; pairs of oboes, clarinets,  Basset horns, bassoons, four French horns and string bass or contra-bassoon. The music is typical Mozart. Brimming over with memorable melodies and ideas that make this Serenade one of Mozart's most popular.  Mozart's skill at composing for wind instruments has no better example than this Serenade. The subtitle Gran Partita was a later addition to the front cover of the autograph, but it was not in Mozart's hand, and no one knows who wrote it. A partita is nothing more than a name for a set of musical pieces. The work is in seven movements:

I. Largo- Molto Allegro - The movement begins with a short introduction that soons breaks into the allegro of the movement. This movement is an example of sonata form that utilizes only one main theme instead of the usual two or more. The theme is in B-flat major and after it is transposed to F major and modified it returns and serves as a second theme. The development continues to expand on this theme until the recapitulation begins. The theme is heard in its original guise and this time the theme is modified as before but it remains in the tonic of B-flat major.

II. Menuetto - This minuet differs from others Mozart wrote in that there are two trio sections, the first trio is in E-flat major, the second in G minor. The minuet itself is in B-flat major. The form of the movment is minuet -trio I - minuet - trio II - minuet.

III. Adagio - A gentle song played to a syncopated accompaniment. 

IV. Menuetto - Allegretto - Similar in construction to the first minuet as it also has two trios, the first in B-flat minor, the second in F major. 

V. Romanze - Adagio - Another gentle movment that provides contrast in the outer sections, but it contains a robust section that is in the minor and played allegretto. After the adagio section is played the second time there is a short coda.

VI. Tema con variazioni -  A set of six variations on a theme:
Theme - A solo clarinet plays the theme which is in B-flat major.
Variation 1 - The next variation has the oboe play the theme in triplets. 
Variation 2 - Clarinets and bassoon play the theme initially, other instruments take up parts of it.
Variation 3 - A different sonority as the theme is played by the ensemble with different accompaniments.
Variation 4 - This is the only variation to deviate from the home key of B-flat major as it is in B-flat minor.
Variation 5 - The music moves back to B-flat major as the tempo slows to adagio. There is a section where the oboe plays a variant of the theme while the clarinets and basset horns quietly play an accompaniment of arppegiated chords while the horns and bassoons play long notes. The effect is one of a gentle, throbbing accompaniment to a most beautiful oboe tune.
Variation 6 - The tempo quickens to allegretto and the time signature changes to three in a bar in this perky ending. 

VII. Finale - Molto Allegro - Instruments interplay while the bassoon adds some humorous notes to this rondo.

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