‘Only the violin has been packed away’ notes on my cadenzas and Eingänge
For none of the works recorded here do cadenzas or Eingänge 1 by the composer exist. How might they have sounded? Mozart wrote no unaccompanied violin music from whose idiom one may draw any conclusions. His only two string cadenzas are found in the Sinfonia Concertante K364/32od. They are laid out as duets for the twosolo instruments, violin and viola, with the viola at once in motivic dialogue with th e violin and, whenever necessary, taking overthe function of the bass. But how would Mozart have realised melody and harmony on a single string instrument? To what extent did he insert double stops and chords in the cadenzas of his violin concertos alongside virtuoso figuration? We do not know.
In the correspondence between Leopold and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart two things are clear: first of all, that the son was an excellent violinist, at least in the first half of the 1770s; and secondly, that he nevertheless felt closer to the piano. Again and again his father encouraged him, sometimes seriously, sometimes in jest, not entirely to forget the violin: ‘Only the violin has been packed away: that I can well imagine’ (27 November 1777). My reflections build on this notion of ‘packing away the violin’. If W. A. Mozart was thus an excellent pianist who also played the violin, we may conjecture that he set greater store by harmonic fullness and clearly understandable part-writing on the string instrument than someone who was a fiddler by nature. This led me to experiment extensively with double stops and polyphony in a number of cadenzas, even if no analogies are found for this in Mozart’s violin works.
Manuals for improvisation in the later eighteenth century mostly take figured bass progressions (to be realised in chords) Mozart’s cadenzas for his piano concertos rely on the motivic material of each movement in widely varying degrees. Of course it is possible to discern certain tendencies: cadenzas to a movement in serioso or maestoso character are often more densely worked thematically than those in a scherzando or grazioso context, which give the impression of being more ornamental and more casually tossed off, and often actually avoid the main themes of the movement in order not to dampen the cheerful mood with an all too laboured earnestness.
A particularly appealing element of these violin concertos is their proximity of tone to Italian opera. I could not resist the temptation of playfully exploring this link. In particular, it seemed to be an obvious idea to seize on the topos ofthe instrumental recitative. Mozart may have encountered it in the works of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Only a year after the last violin concerto he developed a whole movement from a recitative-like theme, the central Andantino of his ‘Jenamy’ Concerto K271.
As a result of these considerations, some of the cadenzas may have become unusually long according to the standards and the treatises of the period. However, the same is true of most of Mozart’s cadenzas – for example, the ones he tailor-made forthe aforementioned and apparently highly virtuosic Victoire Jenamy are notably complex and extravagant. For a violinist ofthe stature of Isabelle Faust, he would also have drawn on his full range of resources …
from booklet: Andreas Staier
‘Isabelle Faust is so versatile a violinist that she is as much at home in Bach as she is in Bartók, so I really have no excuse for being a tad surprised at just how good this Mozart set is. Faust plays these concertos as though she has been a specialist in this repertoire all her life, and the results are utterly delightful throughout … She is entirely alive to the period sensitivities of the repertory and the instrument, and she never tries to turn Mozart s youthful concertos into prototypes of Beethoven, as some are guilty of doing. Instead her performances are lithe, agile and full of air, allowing the music to breathe naturally and totally comfortably … Faust sees herself as primus inter pares here, blending her sound perfectly with that of the orchestra, and only emerging as dominant when required to do so … the booklet notes are excellent, and include an essay from the great fortepianist Andeas Staier, who advised on the cadenzas, explaining his musical choices.’ Simon Thompson – MusicWeb International, January 2017
SUNDAY TIMES CLASSICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK ‘Faust is different as a mainstream interpreter in that she opts for a period orchestra and a historically informed style in these winning accounts of much-loved works. The selling point apart from the inclusion of the B flat and C major rondos (K269/261a and K373), and the E major Adagio (K261), substantial fillers is the cadenzas, newly written by the Mozart specialist Andreas Staier … Faust s spirited tempi in the outer movements of K218 and K219 bring this music as vividly to life as any recording I know, and her sweet singing tone in the andantes and adagio give full expressive value. Lively accompaniments from the Italians.’ Hugh Canning The Sunday Times, 6th November 2016
‘The most critical thing is the match between Isabelle Faust and her gut strung Strad and the orchestra; they fit beautifully, she seems almost airborne at times, so light and airy is the sound … everything is so well balanced, soloist with ensemble, cadenzas with original Mozart, the speeds and rhythmic drive of the outer movements with the delicacy and fine sprung lyricism of Mozart s middle movements. Ornamentation with a light touch, and the recording itself is as airy as the playing. These performances don t make the mistake of investing the music with a weight and profundity at odds with its inspiration, they sing to us with simplicity and elegance, and I actually listened through the lot in one sitting, so much was I enjoying the experience.’ Andrew McGregor BBC Radio 3 Record Review, 5th November 2016 ‘Giovanni Antonini is the nominal conductor but these wonderful performances have the air of chamber music, of close listening between soloist, band and director. Faust isn t spotlit in the remarkably clear engineering but seems part of the ensemble, her sound growing out of the corporate entity to glitter, coax, snarl and soar as required. She has always struck me as a player who cannot help but look beyond the notes, examining each phrase and paragraph to wring out of them more than simply phrases and paragraphs. She varies her ornamentation delightfully and, as an added treat, plays cadenzas and lead-ins specially written by the keyboard player Andreas Staier, who knows a thing or two about 18th-century style … for period instruments, period sensibility and state-of-the-art engineering, you may find yourself hard-pressed to better this thought-provoking and eminently enjoyable cycle.’ David Threasher Gramophone, December 2016