Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) Violin Concerto [No. 5] in A major K. 219
Urtext edited by Cliff Eisen [vl,orch] duration: 29'
solo: vl – 0.2.0.0. – 188.8.131.52. – str
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For the Urtext edition of the three great Mozart Violin Concertos K. 216, 218 and 219, three high-caliber experts came together: Mozart scholar Cliff Eisen as editor, internationally renowned concertmaster and conductor Andrew Manze as the author of stylistically authentic and brilliantly virtuoso cadenzas, and Werner Breig as the creator of the transparent piano reduction that wonderfully suite every accompanists fingers.
The new editions are based on Eisens competent, well-grounded source evaluation. His decisions always do justice to the requirements of historical performance practice and occsionally yield some rather extraordinary results.
K. 219 is Mozart’s fifth violin concerto. Like the concertos K. 211, K. 216 and K. 218 it dates from 1775 and was written in Salzburg. The specific occasions for which the concertos may have been composed are, however, unknown. Possibly they were intended for a local violinist, such as Antonio Brunetti, for whom Mozart composed an “Adagio und Rondeux” (K. 261 and K. 269?). And he wrote at least one work for the court violinist Johann Anton Kolb. It is just as likely, however, that Mozart composed them for himself or for his father. Leopold, of course, was an eminent violinist. And Mozart had held the post of Konzertmeister in the Archbishop’s orchestra since 1769 (as unpaid third Konzertmeister at first, but with an annual salary of 150 florins from August 1772). He had been an adept violinist from his earliest years, frequently performing on the instrument during the tours of the 1760s and 1770s. As late as 1777 he wrote to his father that in Augsburg he had performed a violin concerto by Vanhall, as well as one of his own. And in the same year on 6 October he described a concert in Munich: “The day before yesterday, Saturday the 4th, on the solemn festival of the name-day of His Royal Highness Archduke Albert, we had a little concert here … We first played Haydn’s two quintets … then I played my concertos in C, B flat and E flat and after that my trio … Finally I played my most recent Cassation in B flat. They all opened their eyes, I played as if I were the finest fiddler in all Europe.” Leopold replied: “I am not surprised that when you played your most recent Cassation they all opened their eyes. You yourself do not know how well you play the violin, if you will only do yourself credit and play with energy, with your whole heart and mind, yes, just as if you were the first violinist in Europe.”
Edition and Performance Practice
The present source-critical, performance-oriented edition, like the new edition of the full score, is based on the sole surviving authentic source for K. 219, Mozart’s autograph. At its heart is the conviction that Mozart’s scores represent not only the “substance” of his works but also – in a very real sense – actual performances. A Fassung letzter Hand is scarcely possible: as his autographs and performance copies show, more often than not, Mozart revised a work when playing it again. For this reason, sources deriving from him do not necessarily document the successive deterioration of a “fixed” text (even if they sometimes include copying errors) but, rather, successive moments in a work’s performance history. Seen in this light, many traditional editorial “problems”, among them uniformity of slurring and dynamics, can be understood as representing either deliberate differences and variations (an essential element of Mozart’s style) or various performing options. A particularly fine example of Mozart sanctioning varied versions of the same material can be found in his G-major concerto K. 216, the ossiapassage for the solo violin in the third movement at measures 269ff., 276ff. and 284ff. Furthermore, in those instances where a source can be accurately dated, or the various chronological layers of an autograph or authentic copy unravelled, a “performance history” emerges. This history shows that Mozart expected variety in performance: the imperative to interpret is both explicit and implicit in his notation.
In order to give as clear an indication as possible of Mozartian performance practice, the characteristic notation of the autograph (as given in the full score) has been retained here as far as possible. This is especially the case in those instances where the peculiarities of Mozart’s notation carry performance implications.
Slurs have not been added automatically to connect appoggiaturas to main notes. Although Leopold Mozart prescribed the universal application of such slurs, even in cases where they are not notated, the evidence of Wolfgang’s autographs and performing parts as well as the musical contexts, suggests that for him this may not always have been the case, at least from the 1770s on (for more detailed information, see the full score PB 5371).
Ensemble: Size, Makeup, and Seating Arrangements
There is little explicit documentation concerning the size of Mozart’s orchestras in Salzburg, where the violin concertos were composed and performed. Nevertheless, such evidence as survives suggests an orchestra of around 28 players including eight first and six second violins, two violas, five or six violoncellos and two or three double basses as well as winds and a keyboard. This appears to have been an approximate norm for both the court and private orchestras in Salzburg. Seating plans are uncertain although in the piano concertos the continuo group was probably gathered close to the centrally located keyboard (harpsichord or piano), with first and second violins across from each other in front and the winds ranged behind. In the case of the violin concertos, however, there is no evidence for or against keyboard continuo and it is unclear whether direction of the works was split between soloist and keyboard or whether the soloist, who may well have occupied what is today the concertmaster’s position and played along with the tuttis, as a rule directed the ensemble himself, without continuo.
Solo – Tutti
Mozart’s concerto autographs, including the piano concertos, often contain Solo and Tutti markings. They are almost always notated (mostly abbreviated as S: and T:) for each of the string staves (in K. 219 including the solo violin) and in some concertos (but not in K. 219) additionally for the wind staves. Although these markings are sometimes construed as representing the structure of the work, more likely they represent changes in texture, indicating full or reduced strings (presumably the first desk although possibly just one player per part). In the present keyboard reduction, these indications are given in the solo violin part only. For a more detailed consideration, including a discussion of potentially problematic or atypical passages, see the Preface to the full score PB 5371.
As a general rule, Mozart notates dynamics to the left of the notes to which they apply, using the common eighteenth-century forms pia: ( p:) and for: ( f:), in which the colon denotes abbreviation. The simplified notation (p, f) that invariably appears in standard printed editions occurs infrequently in his earlier manuscripts, often for later and sometimes hasty additions to the text; letter designations are more characteristic of the late Vienna years. The placement and execution of Mozart’s dynamics poses vexing problems: the normative use of simplified dynamics, uncontroversial though it may seem, often engenders difficulties when Mozart’s dynamics straddle several notes. In placing them where Mozart’s pia: or for: begin rather than where they end, editors may prescribe a dynamic change up to several notes too early.
Nor are the problems limited to placement. Although sharp contrasts of dynamics are integral to Mozart’s style, the content and character of his music sometimes suggest the possiblity of mediation between dynamics even where no crescendo or decrescendo is marked. In such cases the dynamics may serve to denote the moment at which a new level is reached, or to indicate phrase shape, rather than an abrupt shift.
As for the quick succession of f to p – Mozart differentiates between fp:, f:p: and for:pia: – the decision where to begin the p: or pia: after the f: should be based not only on the visual appearance of the autograph but also on the musical context and a knowledge of rhetorical figures. In K. 219 examples can be found in the first movement at measures 46, 55–57/157–159, 118–121, 127/130 and in the second movement at measure 2 and respective parallel passages. The discrepant notation of the fp in the Bassi in measures 55–57/157–159 of the first movement is apparently an exception in Mozart’s otherwise clear and musically cogent notation: Mozart writes fp: in the exposition, but f:p: in the recapitulation. In this instance, both passages appear to have identical meanings.
Clarity of articulation is a central attribute of Mozart’s style, borne out through details of his slurs and staccato markings. There is still controversy over the question whether Mozart used two signs, the dot and the stroke, for his staccati, as well as the intended meaning of the two. Furthermore, a short, light articulation is only one meaning of the notation: it can also indicate a more weighty articulation akin to the later accent sign (>). His father’s violin treatise mentions only the stroke. Given my belief that Mozart wrote strokes almost exclusively (even if through haste in writing these sometimes approximate dots; the one consistent exception is dots under slurs, indicating portato), and in order to avoid drawing distinctions between dots and strokes that can become arbitray, I have given the sign as a stroke in the present edition. It is left to the performer to determine which type of execution is appropriate given the character and context.
According to Leopold Mozart and other contemporaneous treatises, slurs are to be understood as diminuendos, with the last note normally lighter and shorter. Similarly, in passages of eighth notes or faster values joined by beams, Mozart always broke a slur at the point the beams needed to be drawn in the opposite direction, up or down. Most often he breaks slurs at the end of a page, and occasionally joins a slur to the previous one. Parallel passages show that such breaks need not require the normal interruption associated with the end of a slur. However, I have generally refrained from standardizing such divergences, leaving the choice to the performer.
All information concerning the autograph and editorial decisions are contained in the Critical Report in the full score PB 5371, which the reader is encouraged to consult. I wish to thank the Library of Congress, Washington for allowing me to study the autograph first-hand. I am also grateful to Robert D. Levin for numerous conversations on performance practice and editing as well as some of the formulations in this Preface, which derive in part from our joint work on Mozart’s piano concertos.
London, Autumn 2004
Remarks concerning the keyboard reduction
The solo violin part is identical with that published in the score edition PB 5371. In keeping with the editorial principles described in the score’s Preface and Critical Report, editorial emendations are indicated by broken slurs and [ ]. The editorial emendations in the score were taken over in the keyboard arrangement but for obvious reasons (such as common beaming for several voices) could not always be indicated as such. For similar reasons not all differences of articulation and dynamics are noted.
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