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Mozart in der Bauernmusik
see end of review for tracklisting
Margit-Anna Suss (folk-harp); Klaus Stolle (double-bass)
rec. Studio Campanella, August 1999
Experience Classicsonline

Many a musical historian has told us that folk music was one of the numerous musical streams which contributed to Mozart’s evolution as a composer of highly individual genius. Nor have we been deprived of attempts to demonstrate this truth. One of Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts was devoted to ‘Folk Music in the Concert Hall’ (see script) and began with part of the Minuet from one of Mozart’s Symphonies. Playing the whole movement later in the concert, Bernstein commented characteristically that it was “real high-brow concert-music by Mozart, which could never have been written if the simple Austrian folk music hadn’t come first”.

Where Bernstein, for example, asks us to listen to a Mozart Minuet played by a classical orchestra and to compare it with an authentic folk tune, Mozart in der Bauernmusik approaches the same musical nexus rather differently. It also seeks to demonstrate “the affinity between the popular peasants’ music and the art music of Mozart”, to quote from the booklet notes by Hansjörg Schellenberger. It does so by interweaving arrangements of compositions by Mozart with performances of folk materials from Austria (chiefly), Germany and Switzerland, as well as tunes by modern folk musicians such as Neumüller and Reiser, all played on folk harp accompanied by double-bass. All the arrangements of the Mozart items are by Suss and Stolle themselves and they make for enjoyable, if unspectacular, listening.

The harp which Margit-Ann Suss plays has an attractively rustic sound which befits the folk materials well and which gives a distinctive air to the Mozart items in the programme. It is fair to say that, for example, hearing arias from Mozart’s operas played in this context on these instruments, does open one’s ears to affinities which might not otherwise have been at the forefront of the mind. Of course there are losses too, but the exercise is a worthwhile and interesting one.

Some of the folk melodies are very beguiling and the programming of the CD - reproduced in my listing - creates some interesting juxtapositions, offering frequent reminders of how much both Mozart’s rhythms and melodic shapes have in common with the ‘popular’ music of his day.

Perhaps no musicological points of great profundity or originality are made by this exploration of Mozart’s roots in the folk music of his place and time, but - and this is perhaps more important - over an hour’s pleasant and mildly instructive listening is offered to the Mozartean who wants a relatively fresh, attractively unforced angle on the master’s music. A familiar historical observation here acquires persuasive flesh on its bones, musically speaking.

Glyn Pursglove 

Track listing
Da Holzner Boarische [1:37]
Mühlviertler Ländler [1:56]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Menuett (from Symphony in E flat major) [3:18]
Vorarlberger Bauerntänze [1:49]
Zillertaler Boarischer [1:17]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Ländlerischer Tanz [2:45]
Menuett [1:24]
Thernberger Hochzeitsstückln [3:40]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
‘Ihr, die ihr Triebe des Herzens kennt’ (from The Marriage of Figaro) [3:40]
Hallstädter Hochzeitsmarsch (um 1800) [2:25]
Schweizer Tanz [1:12]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Menuett (from Don Giovanni) [1:23]
Deutscher Tanz [2:25]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Deutscher Tanz (Schlittenfahrt) [1:43]
Südtirolere Hochzeitsmusik [4:21]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
‘ Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja’ (from The Magic Flute) [0:51]
Altfränkisches Menuett [3:09]
Schellenberger Zigeunerpolka [2:07]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
‘ Das klinget so herrlich’ (from The Magic Flute) [0:46]
Harfenpolka [1:05]
Bauernmenuett aus Imst [2:37]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Gavotte (from Les petits riens) [0:56]
Stockerauer Tanz [1:21]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Menuett (from the Haffner Serenade) [3:15]
Alte Steierische Tänze [2:36]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Deutscher Tanz [1:45]
Menuett in G major [1:09]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
‘ Reich mir die Hand, mein Leben’ (from Don Giovanni) [1:29]
In der Klostermühle, Boarischer aus Dietramszell [2:24]
Tobi REISER (1907-1974)
Nanei Ländler [4:16]
Der alte Marsch von Österreich [0:44]

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