Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
Mozart's good friends, the Haffnera, were a well-to-do Salzburg family, one of whom was the Burgomaster in Mozart's time. They are responsible for three of the master's works, this Symphony, the Serenade, and a little March, the two latter having been commissioned and composed in honour of the wedding of one of the daughters in 1776. Five years later, for the wedding of a younger daughter, Mozart's father was asked to compose a Symphony; he passed on the commission to his illustrious son, who, in spite of the almost overwhelming tasks with which he was engrossed at the moment', undertook it, composing tho work at even greater speed than was usual with him. It is on record that when he looked it over again years afterwards he was himself astonished to find it so good.
As befits the happy occasion for which it was composed, the Symphony is throughout in sunny, exultant, vein; she was indeed a fortunate young woman who had such music written by such a master in her honour.
The first movement begins at once, with a robust, joyous theme, easily recognized in its subsequent appearances and development. The movement is of no great length, and has no repetition of its first part, as so often was, and still is, usual.
The slow movement has only oboes, bassoons, and horns, supporting the strings, and the first violin begins at once with the beautiful tune, very characteristic of Mozart, which forms the basis of the whole piece.
The Minuet is vigorous rather than dainty, with the Trio forming an admirable contrast in that respect, and the last movement, a bustling Presto, brings the Symphony to an end in the same happy spirit which has characterized it throughout. It begins at once with the merry principal tune played in unison by the strings.
Saint-Saens' opera on the subject of Henry VIII centres round the King and Anne Boleyn. The Ballet, that inevitable feature of a French opera, is part of the wedding festivities, and in this concert arrangement consists of four movements. The first is called Entry of the Clans, and is intended to have a Scottish character. It begins with a tune with something of a Scots lilt, and there follows a march which oboes and trumpets play first, the whole orchestra taking it up later.
The second movement is also Scottish in character. Strings, with the woodwinds responding, begin it, and then the oboe plays a tune meant to be reminiscent of the bagpipes, with the harp and cellos imitating the drone. There are two other tunes in the movement, one played first by the violins, and the other, bringing the piece to an end, of a gayer, brisker, nature.
The third movement is a vivacious gipsy dance.
The drum here is prominent with a rhythmic figure, and the boisterous dance tune is presented first by the violins and English horn.
Only in the last movement is there the suggestion of England which the name of the opera would lead one to expect. It is a Jig, violina and then woodwinds playing the merry tune. There is a middle section with a new melody for the woodwinds, and another, quieter, for violins, and then the Suite comes to an end with a really exhilarating Finale.
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