Serenata Notturna – Three Divertimenti – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
The present recording collects some of Mozart’s most famous occasional music. He wrote this Serenate and Divertimenti for parties, ceremonies and other festive events, as it was usual for composers who did not attend to the composition of church or operatic music. The genre of the “serenade” was originally associated with a musical greeting to the beloved, but in the 18th century it designated «a work of a particular character, formal structure and instrumentation, of which Mozart’s serenades are the chief examples», as the New Grove points out.
In Vienna, the serenade or serenata was extremely popular at the end of the century. It was customary to play them in parks and other places in the open air. It is therefore not by chance that Mozart composed one of his most beautiful serenades, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, while living there (he completed it in August 1787), as it provided a secure source of income for the composers.
This wonderful recording by the Camerata Nordica and Terje Tønnesen, features Eine kleine Nachtmusik together with other five works.
Serenata Notturna: the Performance
Fiirst of all, it is necessary to state that this recording is a little gem. The Camerata Nordica and Terje Tønnesen perform the six works with exquisite taste, freshness of invention and skill. The brilliant sound of the ensemble gives to the works a characteristic, shining colour. In this way, if on the one hand the fast movements are more brilliant and vivacious than ever, on the other the slow ones always reveal their sparkling vitality.
Adagio & Fugue, Eine kleine Nachtmusik
Despite the character of this recording is prevalently amusing, it opens quite gloomy. The Adagio & Fugue in C Minor K546 is a melancholic work that the Camerata Nordica plays with pathos. Immediately after that, however, the programme offers several samples of Mozart’s liveliest music. The most popular work is for sure the Serenade No. 13 in G Major, K. 525, better known as Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
As for this performance, the Nachtmusik shines for exuberance and shimmering colours. The first movement, one of the most famous in the history of music, is played with such verve and enthusiasm to be delightful. The tempo is a little fast and it is maybe what helps to achieve such a fine result. The second movement is more relaxed, but equally vivid. The other two movement echo the energy of the first and conclude worthily one of the liveliest performance of the Nachtmusik. Furthermore, the sound of the strings is remarkably brilliant throughout the work.
The other works are as vibrant and finely performed, especially the Serenata notturna, which reveals the same character of the Nachtmusik. This work, however, has a firmer character. In its three movements, the Camerata Nordica is able to present a progression from the military Marcia, to the intermediate character of the Minuetto, which still echoes the previous movement despite the grace of the dance that the strings portray so finely, to end with the Rondo. Allegretto, which is graceful and witty and where the joie de vivre triumphs.
The two Divertimenti (K136 and K138) are equally charming. In their joyful, sometimes even feverish movements, they are amusing and vivacious. Anyway, it is a slow movement as the Andante from K136 that really draw the listener’s attention. This piece, as the others, is remarkable for its thoughtfulness, for its delicacy and melancholy, which is rendered with rich and detailed sound and stunning, vivid colours.
In its six works, this recording it is able to condense the moods that are commonly associated with Mozart’s music. Its lively spirit and its impertinence, but also its melancholy and above all that inventiveness that perhaps is the best, the most familiar feature of these serenades and divertimenti. Add to this an amazing performance by an accomplished ensemble, and this recording will steal your heart for sure.