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ClassicsOnline Home » MOZART, W.A.: Magic Flute (The) / La Clemenza di Tito (arr. for wind ensemble) (Saxonian Woodwind Academy)
When Emperor Joseph II established a professional wind ensemble (or Harmonie) drawn from the Viennese court orchestra in 1782, he initiated an influential trend that gave composers an important opportunity to popularise their operatic music. The beautifully crafted Harmoniemusik arrangements of arias and choruses from Mozart’s two last operatic masterpieces, Die Zauberflöte and La Clemenza di Tito, made by the composer’s contemporaries, Joseph Heidenreich and Joseph Triebensee, are superb examples of the genre, which showcase both the extraordinary richness of Mozart’s immortal music and the virtuosic talents of the serenading wind players.
By Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics
By David Denton
Naxos has championed some unlikely causes, and now turns its attention to the once popular ‘Harmoniemusik’, the works written for small rustic wind ensembles that reached professional respectability during Mozart’s lifetime. He was to add some charming Serenades to their repertoire, though such groups largely relied on arrangements of music composed in another genre. The premiere of Mozart’s opera, Die Zauberflote had only just taken place when Joseph Heidenreich began work on a very free arrangement of key sections of the opera scored for pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns. At times keys were transposed and the vocal line changed in character so that it would fall within the range of one instrument. With commendable skill he retained essence of the music in his pleasing adaptation, the work extending to more than forty minutes. The extracts from La Clemenza di Tito are much shorter, and in the hands of Joseph Triebensee sound far more imaginative and persuasive. They are played by the Saxonian Wind Academy, a group drawn from the Chemnitz Robert Schumann Philharmonic Orchestra. They are an ideally balanced ensemble, who interpret the music in wind ensemble terms, selecting different tempi and dynamics to those you would hear in the opera house. At times I wish there was added urgency in Zauberflote, but I find the eight excepts from La Clemenza di Tito totally convincing. The recorded sound is realistic, and I hope we will encounter the group in original wind ensemble scores.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Die Zauberflöte, arranged for wind ensemble by Joseph Heidenreich
La Clemenza di Tito (Excerpts), arranged for wind ensemble by Joseph Triebensee
By the second half of the eighteenth century the fashion for Harmoniemusik, music for wind ensemble, had become widespread in Central Europe, with new compositions or arrangements of popular operas providing a repertoire for entertainment, an accompaniment on occasion for dinner, as in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, where musicians play excerpts arranged from operas by Martín and Sarti, and Non più andrai from Le nozze di Figaro. In Vienna, under Joseph II, wind ensemble music of this kind assumed a more sophisticated form. Whereas earlier Harmoniemusik had often been provided by servants of the household, bands of oboes, bassoons and horns, the Emperor established a very much more expert band, with pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons, drawn from members of the court orchestra. It was for such a talented ensemble that Mozart wrote his wind serenades and which he must have had increasingly in mind in his later orchestral writing, notably in Così fan tutte. In a letter from Vienna to his father in Salzburg in July 1782 Mozart declares his intention of arranging his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail for wind instruments before anyone else seizes the opportunity to make a profit from it. It was more usual, however, for composers to leave the task of arrangements to others, with or without authorisation.
The present wind ensemble arrangements are drawn from Mozart’s last two operas, Die Zauberflöte and La Clemenza di Tito, both written and first staged in 1791. The first of these is arranged for the usual pairs of oboes, clarinets bassoons and horns by Joseph Heidenreich, who had earlier provided various arrangements of Mozart operas. His version of Die Zauberflöte was advertised in the Wiener Zeitung on 14 January 1792 as either in eight or six parts, and by August he had prepared a piano version of the same work.
The arrangement, which shows a degree of technical competence, coupled with business acumen, was available for customers a few months after the first performance of the Singspiel at the Vienna Theater an der Wieden on 30 September 1791. It duly opens with a transcription of the Overture . The hero of the work, the young prince Tamino, tries to escape from a serpent that is pursuing him. He calls for help and faints, while Three Ladies in the service of the Queen of the Night appear and dispose of the monster. They each vie to stay behind and watch over him, while the others tell the Queen of what has happened, but eventually resolve to leave together in Ich sollte fort! (I must away!) , transposed into the same key as the Overture. They leave and the bird-catcher Papageno enters, announcing his identity in Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja (Yes, I am the bird-catcher) . He claims, when Tamino comes to his senses, to have killed the serpent. The Ladies return and punish Papageno’s lies by putting a padlock on his mouth to stop him speaking, Hm! Hm! Hm! , with Papageno’s notes given to a bassoon and Tamino’s to a clarinet. Heidenreich reserves Tamino’s aria, Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (This picture is bewitchingly beautiful) , his reaction to the portrait of a beautiful girl that the Ladies give him, to a later point in the arrangement. This is Pamina, abducted, he is told, by a wicked magician. The Queen of the Night makes her terrifying appearance, and tells Tamino that he must rescue Pamina, her daughter. The Ladies unlock Papageno’s mouth and give Tamino a magic flute and Papageno silver bells, protection in their quest.
In the palace of Sarastro, priest of the sun, Pamina has escaped but been caught again by the blackamoor Monostatos, who gloats over his prisoner in Du feines Täubchen nur herein (You pretty little dove) . Papageno appears and he and Monostatos confront each other, to their mutual terror, each thinking the other the Devil. Papageno frees Pamina, who sings, in a duet with her rescuer, the show-stopper Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen (With men who feel love) . Heidenreich places Tamino’s “Bildnisarie”  next. In the dramatic action Tamino, meanwhile, is led by Three Boys to a grove where he is confronted by three temples. The Boys tell him that this is the path he must take, leading to his goal, in Zum Ziele führt dich diese Bahn (To your goal this path leads you) . Tamino, rebuffed at two of the temple doors, plays his magic flute, Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton (How strong is your magic sound) , to which animals emerge dancing. Papageno, captured by Monostatos, plays his bells, setting Monostatos and his slaves dancing, Das klinget so herrlich (It sounds so merrily) , and allowing their escape. The act ends with the entry of Sarastro with his priests. He orders the punishment of Monostatos, a prelude to the purification by ordeal of Tamino. The first act ends with Wenn Tugend und Gerechtigkeit (When virtue and justice) .
The second act brings the ordeals through which Tamino, and to a limited extent Papageno, will pass. Sarastro announces the importance of the occasion and sings his aria O Isis und Osiris , a prayer to the gods, seeking wisdom for Tamino and Pamina. The first ordeal is of silence, and Tamino and Papageno are led by priests to a temple forecourt, where they are told to keep silence. The Three Ladies appear, in Wie? Wie? Wie? (How? How? How?) , telling the men that they will never escape from the wicked priests. Tamino remains silent, but Papageno is inclined to believe them. Priests lead Tamino and Papageno away. The scene changes to a garden. Pamina is sleeping in the moonlight and Monostatos approaches, eager to steal a kiss. In Alles fühlt der Liebe Freuden (Everyone feels the joys of love)  he sings of the need of love for all, whatever their colour. His intentions are thwarted by the intervention of the Queen of the Night who sings, in an aria sensibly omitted from the arrangement, of the vengeance of Hell that is in her heart. She leaves, giving Pamina a dagger. Monostatos returns, but is finally dismissed by Sarastro and resolves to serve the Queen of the Night in her designs. The Three Boys return, their Terzetto duly arranged, Seid uns zum zweiten Mal willkommen (Welcome a second time to Sarastro’s kingdom) . They return the magic flute and glockenspiel to Tamino and Papageno, and food appears. Tamino is urged to have courage and Papageno told to keep quiet. Pamina appears but her entrance has to be greeted in silence, to her distress. Tamino is to undergo the ordeals prescribed by Sarastro, and Pamina expresses her fears in Soll ich dich Teurer nicht mehr sehn? (Shall I, dear one, see you no more?)  in a Terzetto with Tamino and Sarastro. Papageno has been tantalised by the occasional appearance of an old woman, claiming to be his bride. In spite of his continuing interest in food and in wine, which miraculously appears, he realises, in Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen wünscht Papageno sich (A girl or little wife is what Papageno wants) , that he needs his Papagena. The old woman returns and is transformed into the young Papagena, only to be led away from him by a priest. He is about to kill himself, when relief comes, through the Three Boys. He plays the magic bells that bring back a transformed young Papagena to his side. Monostatos and the Three Ladies, with their Queen, are still plotting against Sarastro, but are finally defeated by the power of light, with Tamino, his ordeals completed, and Pamina now together in enlightenment. It is, however, with Papageno and Papagena that Heidenreich ends his medley, which closes with the couple together, Papagena! Bist Du mir nun ganz gegeben (Papagena! Are you now completely mine?) , as Papageno addresses his beloved Papagena, now all his own little wife.
Rather more is known about Joseph Triebensee, son of a distinguished oboist and himself an oboist who had played in the first performances of Die Zauberflöte, before a career that took him, from 1796 to 1809, to the court of Liechtenstein, where he made many of his arrangements for wind ensemble, and from 1816 to Prague, where he succeeded Weber as director of the opera.
Mozart’s opera La Clemenza di Tito, with a libretto originally by Metastasio, was commissioned for Prague, where it was first performed in September 1791 to celebrate the coronation of Leopold II as King of Bohemia. The reaction of the Italian-born Empress to the work, which she described as ‘porcheria tedesca’ (‘German muck’), has won her a certain posthumous notoriety.
The narrative of the opera, which lacks the complexity and relative confusion of Die Zauberflöte, can be easily told. Vitellia, daughter of the former Emperor Vitellius and jealous of the new Emperor Titus, persuades Sextus, who is in love with her, to plot against his friend, the Emperor. Annius seeks from Sextus the hand of his sister, Servilia, which he grants. Titus, rejecting a foreign marriage, now declares that he will marry Servilia, in order to honour Sextus. She tells Titus that she loves Annius, and he releases her from marriage with him. Vitellia still urges Sextus to assassinate Titus, but when she learns that she is to be the wife of Titus, she becomes anxious to prevent the plot, which is now afoot. Titus survives and Sextus is found guilty, still refusing to implicate Vitellia, who finally admits her guilt, to be forgiven by the magnanimous Emperor.
The arrangement by Triebensee starts with the Overture , transposed from C to B flat and slightly abridged. It is followed by the duet between Vitellia and Sextus, Come te piace imponi (Command me as you will), here omitted. In Deh se piacer mi vuoi (If you want me to love you, forget your suspicions)  is Vitellia’s first aria, the vocal line given largely to the first oboe. Deh prendi un dolce amplesso (Ah accept a sweet embrace, my loyal friend)  is a Duettino for Sextus and Annius, the latter asking Sextus to seek permission for Annius’s marriage to Sextus’s sister Servilia. The gentle lilt of the duet is followed by a Marcia (March) , originally with trumpets and drums, set in the Roman forum, where Titus enters, with his entourage. In Del più sublime soglio (For the highest ruler the sole fruit is this)  Titus has his first aria, the vocal line given to the first bassoon. It is followed by the duet for Servilia and Annius, Ah perdona al primo affetto (Ah pardon the unadvised words of first love) . The second aria of Titus, Ah, se fosse intorno al trono (Ah, if only everyone at my court were so sincere)  is his reaction to Servilia’s admission that she cannot be his wife, since she is in love with Annius. Parto, parto, ma tu ben mio (I go, I go, be at peace with me), omitted here, is the reaction of Sextus to Vitellia’s command to assassinate Titus, a version slightly less satisfactory owing to the absence of the solo basset clarinet, played in Prague by Anton Stadler. Vengo! Aspettate! (I come! Wait!), also omitted here, is a Terzetto for Vitellia, Annius and Publius, as Vitellia expresses her anxiety about the plot she has devised, while the men tell her she must be ready to receive Titus, who will marry her. The transcription ends with Deh conservate, oh Dei (O gods, save Rome’s splendour) , a quintet and chorus, with Vitellia, Servilia, Sextus, Annius and Publius, that ends the first act of the opera. Sextus, his line taken by the first bassoon, prays that Titus may be saved, ashamed of what he has done, to the mystification of Annius. Servilia, her line taken by the first oboe, is urged by Annius to escape and Publius fears danger to the Emperor. Vitellia appears, heard from the first clarinet, looking for Sextus. There are brief passages of recitative, and a final Andante, in which the singers express their sorrow at events, ending the act with an unusually subdued ensemble, after all the preceding drama.
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MOZART, W.A.: Magic Flute (The) / La Clemenza di T...