Friday, May 14, 2010

Sunday Classics Quiz-Contest: What's wrong with three of these Mozart overtures (or right with the other one)?


This week: Win a rare CD of Josef Krips conducting Mozart overtures

What could ever be wrong with the Marriage of Figaro Overture? It's performed here by the Staatskapelle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim, Berlin State Opera, 1999.

by Ken


Winner of last week's prize, a CD of Sousa marches played by the Band of H.M. Royal Marines conducted by Lt. Col. G.A.C. Hoskins, M.V.O., L.R.A.M., R.M. (Prinicipal Director of Music, Royal Marines), is our friend Bil -- first for his thoughtful response to my question about the difference between American and British band performances of Sousa marches ("thoughtful" because it agrees with me), and second in hopes of shutting him up about these damned prizes. Bil, please let me know where to send yours (

Thanks to all who joined in last week. Just to be clear: The prize isn't necessarily for getting the most correct answers, but for making the liveliest contribution to the discussion. Yours truly is the sole judge. Contest result to be announced next Friday, unless I decided to do it sooner.


Okay, "rare" may be a stretch, although it's certainly not common. (I probably shouldn't say this, but the copies I've found have generally been in bargain bins. But then, many priceless treasures have been refugees from the bargain bins.) On this Adès CD, Josef Krips conducts nine Mozart overtures, the eight "basic" ones -- Idomeneo, Abduction from the Seraglio, The Impresario, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, La Clemenza di Tito, and The Magic Flute -- plus La finta giardiniera, with Zurich's principal orchestra, the Tonhalle. Here is his unhurried but glowing performance of the Marriage of Figaro Overture, which we just heard above. It's not the ultimate in polish, but for me it overflows with warmth and humanity -- just listen to the Tonhalle winds sing!

MOZART: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), K. 492: Overture

Tonhalle Orchestra (Zurich), Josef Krips, cond. Adès, recorded 1960

I've said before that I don't think you can conduct Mozart with an unclean soul. Krips had a soul of singular radiance. (We just heard some of his live 1969 Vienna performance of Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder.) He was one of the great Mozart conductors of the 20th century. His 1955 Decca recording of Don Giovanniremains not just my favorite recording of that seminal opera but one of the best-conducted performances of a Mozart opera (or maybe any opera) I've heard. He made a gorgeous recording of the sublime C minor Concerto (No. 24) with Arthur Rubinstein,with whom he of course recorded one of the classic Beethoven concerto cycles. And, oh yes, with the Concertgebouw Orchestra he made wonderful recordings of the Mozart Symphonies Nos. 21-41.

A curiosity: For some reason, the letter that Krips wrote to the members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1963 as he concluded his ten years as the orchestra's music director is posted online -- not in text form, but as a scan of the actual letter. I find it a fascinating document.


As noted above, there's something wrong with all but one of these Mozart overtures. Note, however, that it's not necessarily the same thing wrong with all of them. In tomorrow night's Sunday Classics Preview we'll have some additional musical selections that should clear up at least some of the mysteries.






As noted, we'll have some additional musical selections related to the quiz pieces, which will point us to the subject(s) of Sunday's post.


Here are the missing credits for our musical selections above. The remaining questions are answered in this morning's update to the Saturday night Sunday Classics Preview.

MOZART: Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), K. 384: Overture
[with concert ending by Johann André] Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Neville Marriner, cond. EMI, recorded c1981

MOZART: Don Giovanni, K. 527: Overture
[with concert ending by Mozart] Staatskapelle Dresden, Sir Colin Davis, cond. BMG, recorded c1998

MOZART: Così fan tutte, K. 588: Overture
Berlin Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum, cond. DG, recorded December 1962

HAYDN: L'Incontro improvviso: Overture
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Antal Dorati, cond. Philips/Decca, recorded June 1979)


The current list is here.

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At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

yeah yeah, we ARE building some silent majority traffic here Keni. The Peoplez LOVE contests AND Prizes. I for sure treasure these signed pieces from DWT, but can't remember if this one is signed by Isaac Hayes (i hope:) or the march guy. (Howie can teach you how to do these sigs).

According to teh wiki this march guy wasn't a big fan of the talkies...

"Sousa held a very low opinion of the emerging and upstart recording industry. In a submission to a congressional hearing in 1906, he argued:

These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape."


As regards THIS particular contest (travlin' hope I'm not too late and never afraid to make a fool out of myself here).

I wouldn't have bet on it initially but I like the first one the best. I found the rest very sloppy, not CRISP cut offs and accents. Amen.

(ps I will renew my search for that $2 4-pack of Stravinsky 8-tracks I passed up on for your future prize pile).


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