W. A. Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, A Major
W. A. Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5, A Major
Shlomo Mintz, Violinist & Conductor
The concerto is scored for two oboes, two horns and strings.
The movements are as follows:
Mozart’s practical involvement with the violin began at an early age. His father Leopold (1719-1787), who was himself an excellent violinist and accomplished composer of both religious and secular music, was also the author of a highly esteemed didactic work on violin technique, A Treatise on the Fundamentals of Violin Playing, published in 1756, the year of his son’s birth. (The treatise is still an important source for the study of the musical practice of the time.) Wolfgang began lessons with his father in 1762, and was soon actively participating in making music with his father’s colleagues and friends. During these sessions he was introduced to the music of two of Italy’s finest violinist composers, Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) and Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764). In 1769 he entered into the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg as both concertmaster and composer.
Between the years 1769 and 1773 Mozart made three separate journeys with his father to Italy. It was a period in which he spent much time studying and composing dramatic works for the stage as well as sacred works, but it was also a time of exposure to one of Italy’s finest violin virtuosi, Pietro Nardini (1722-1793). In addition, Mozart had befriended Thomas Linley, a young Englishman and gifted student of Nardini.
In a letter to his wife, dated Rome, April 21, 1770, Leopold describes the friendly bond between the two boys: “In Florence we met a young Englishman, a pupil of the famous violinist Nardini. The lad, who plays very finely and is of Wolfgang’s age and height, came to the house of the learned poetess Signora Corilla… The two boys performed by turns throughout the evening amidst continual embracing. The other day the little Englishman, a most charming lad, had his violin brought to us and played all the afternoon, Wolfgang accompanying him, also on the violin. The following day we dined with M. Gavard…and the two children played by turns the whole afternoon, not like boys but like men!” The experience of making music with Linley, and that of Nardini’s playing, increased Mozart’s interest in perfecting his own playing, but more importantly, it became an impetus for him to begin to compose seriously for the violin.
This emphasis on music for violin and strings culminated in 1775 when, in the course of nine months (April - December), he composed five concertos for violin and orchestra.
In these five violin concertos, as with much of the music Mozart composed during his “apprentice” period, his first attempts seem groping until he fully assimilated the material and gained complete mastery of the form. Such is the case with the first two concertos, K. 207 and 209, wherein Baroque and Rococo characteristics dominate. Again, the works of such composers as Nardini, Boccherini (1743-1805), and Tartini provide the models for these two concertos. But as usual, Mozart was to transcend the limits of these models. Especially in his Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K. 219, Mozart demonstrates great imagination in his experimentation with fluctuating tempos and diverse meters within single movements.
Such freedom in his handling of material expresses not only an originality of form, but also Mozart’s knowledge and command of both the Italian and French styles, a demonstration of his cosmopolitanism at the age of 19!
The first movement of Concerto No. 5 quickly presents us with formal peculiarities that are odd for the period. Following the tutti exposition, the solo violin enters with a tempo change from Allegro aperto to Adagio, completely altering the mood. When the allegro returns we discover that what appeared to be the first theme of the Concerto (a rising arpeggio in the violins) turns out to be an accompaniment to what is the true first theme stated in the solo violin. Aside from these anomalies, the remainder of the first movement follows the processes of sonata form.
The Adagio, in E major, is a three-part song form of a lyrical and contemplative nature. In the finale, labeled Rondeau, Mozart tips his hat to French models. But the uniqueness of this movement stems from the introduction of a simultaneous meter and tempo change as well as a change of key to A minor.
This is an episode in the alla turca style, which was popular in opera at the time. Mozart achieves this effect not only by changing the mode to minor, but above all through his requiring the cellos and basses to play coll’ arco al roverscio, meaning “play with the wood of the bow,” thereby producing a percussive sound. The movement ends quietly with the last statement of the theme.
Source: LA Phil
Shlomo Mintz has dedicated all of his life to music. Regarded as one of the foremost violinists of our time, esteemed for his impeccable musicianship, stylistic versatility and commanding technique alike. Born in Moscow in 1957, he emigrated to Israel at age 2. He started to play the violin with his father at the age of 3 and a half and studied with the renowned Ilona Feher from 6 to 16 years of age. His Concerto debut was at age 11 with the Israel Philharmonic and he played the Paganini Violin Concerto at age 13.
When he was 16, he performed at the Carnegie Hall with the Pittsburgh Symphony orchestra. Being an American-Israel Cultural Foundation award recipient, under the auspices of Isaac Stern, he began his studies with Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, from age 16 to 21. Mintz toured throughout Europe with famous conductors, such as Carlo-Maria Giulini, Antal Dorati and Eugene Ormandy, then signed a major contract with the Deutsche Grammophon.
Regularly appearing with the most celebrated orchestras and conductors on the international scene, he is also frequently heard in recitals and chamber music performances.
Shlomo Mintz is one of the founders of the Keshet Eilon International Violin Mastercourse in Israel, an advanced-level summer program for young talented violinists from all around the world in Kibbutz Eilon, Israel. He was their Patron for eighteen years (1992-2010). Between 2002 - 2011, he has been the President of the Jury of the Sion Valais-International Violin Competition in Switzerland, and the Artistic Director of Crans Montana Classics, a high-level violin Mastercourse in Switzerland, for seven years (2012 - 2018).
Mintz has been a member of many international competition juries in the past, such as the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (1993) and the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Brussels (1993 and 2001). In October 2001 Mr. Mintz was the President of the Jury of the International Henryk Wieniawski Competition for the Violin in Poznań, Poland.
Currently, he is the Mentor and President of the Jury of the International Violin Competition Buenos Aires in Argentina, President of Jury and Artistic Director of Tucuman (Argentina) Festival and National Violin Competition, as well as the president of the Munetsugu Angel Violin Competition in Japan and the Ilona Fehér Budapest Violin Competition in Hungary.
At the age of eighteen, Shlomo Mintz added the role of conductor to his artistic endeavors. Since then, he has conducted acclaimed orchestras worldwide.
"I started conducting, because my teacher Dorothy Delay, gave me a long speech about ‘knowing what other instruments play when you play your concertos’. She was an eloquent pianist herself and was able to accompany her students on several occasions. After I had a few years of piano playing, my interests turned immediately to conducting..."
As Artistic Director, Shlomo Mintz feels that his services contribute directly to the community : "When an orchestra has a clear direction, it serves as an example for the community and its music education."
MORE INFORMATION: https://www.shlomomintzviolin.com/
Bennett Lopez, Principal
George Gelles, Principal
Ken Aiso, Visiting Concertmaster
Larry Kohorn, Concertmaster
Johana Krejčí, Principal
Eugene Mechtovich, Principal
Caroline Coward, Principal
Shlomo Mintz plays Movement I of Mozart Concerto No. 5
with the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna
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