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The Consort

David J Golby

Summer 2009, Vol. 65

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony no.41 in C major, 'Jupiter', K551,
arr Peter Lichtenthal for String Quintet
Edition HH, HH182.FSP, Bicester, 2008 (pbk £22.50)
ISMN 979 0 708059 50 9

I had the pleasure of reviewing Clementi's arrangement of W A Mozart's Symphony no.40 for this publication last year. This arrangement, together with that of the Clarinet Concerto reviewed below, is also part of Edition HH's '@MOZART' series, created, as they put it, 'around Mozart', and edited by the eminently well-qualified Christopher Hogwood. In their own ways, to a greater or lesser extent, these arrangements are fascinating, and worthy of attention among performers, teachers and scholars alike.

Lichtenthal (1780-1853), 'doctor, composer, musicologist and close friend of Mozart's son Karl' (Introduction, p.v), conceived of chamber music arrangements of Mozart's large-scale works such as this, as a means, much needed in his view, to promote the work of the 'single universal musical genius' (ibid). This chamber arrangement is one of a number by Lichtenthal of Mozart's works contained in the library of the Conservatorio Verdi in Milan, including Mozart's last three symphonies and the Requiem. Naturally, with its celebrated five-part counterpoint, K551 warranted an expansion of the string quartet into a quintet. Though far from being a unique arrangement of this piece (Hogwood reveals a significant number), Lichtenthal's contribution is particularly effective and convincing, and brings with it a certain legitimacy, and even tacit approval, by virtue of the arranger's connection with the Mozart family.

Great care has been taken to translate textural contrasts within the orchestral original for the smaller forces, such as from bar 189 in the development of the first movement. The two viola parts are particularly interesting, receiving much of the exquisite wind writing and being required to fill out harmonies. This move is utterly convincing when they are called upon to impersonate the bassoons, or horns, as at the end of the Andante.

Viola 1 enjoys a brief foray into treble clef, imitating the oboe, in the second half of the Minuet. However, frequent octave transpositions are necessitated, especially in the second movement, raising potential issues with the internal balance of the ensemble. Also, the inevitable amount of double and triple stopping required, particularly in the case of the violin and second viola parts, will require careful attention in performance.

Lichtenthal was most probably using the imperfect Breitkopf & Härtel edition of 1828, and Hogwood notes carefully the changes to Mozart's original markings, such as those relating to tempo and dynamics. However, it is true to say that the rather haphazard nature of some of the phrasing and articulation, and the omission or adaptation of some of the brass writing, do not detract from the overall quality and ingenuity of the arrangement, especially with respect to the deployment of the prominent wind parts.

As we have come to expect from this Edition HH series, there are excellent introductory notes by Hogwood (also translated into German). In this case there are very helpful and relevant suggestions for metronome markings, derived from the authoritative sources of Hummel and Czerny, and guidance on the handling of repeats and dynamics in the minuet. There is also a facsimile reprint of part of Lichtenthal's autograph manuscript, at the point where all five subjects are combined in the finale, and detailed textual notes, many of which relate this arrangement to the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe. The presentation is very clear and uncluttered, with careful consideration given to the position of page turns.

The result is challenging, but very rewarding to play. The chamber texture possibly invites slightly quicker tempi than are often heard in the original orchestral version, in reality closer to the metronome marks suggested for the outer movements by Czerny and Hummel. The reduced texture is of course entirely appropriate in many respects, as Mozart himself was able to incorporate a range of gestures from the most grandiose to the most intimate. The famous coda to the finale, where the various motifs from earlier in the movement are combined in a glorious fugato in five-part invertible counterpoint, is aptly thrilling and very effective.

This is another exemplary edition from Edition HH, this time of a fascinating re-working of a masterpiece which merits attention in a whole range of contexts.

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