Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble performs Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525, a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13)
The German title of the work, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” actually means “a little serenade,” though it is often rendered more literally but less accurately as “a little night music.” The work is written for an ensemble of two violins, viola, and cello with optional double bass, but is often performed by string orchestras.
Although it originally denoted an evening song for courtship, the term serenade by the late 18th century was used broadly to describe a chamber work intended for light entertainment on a social occasion. Serenades enjoyed great popularity in south-central Europe, particularly in Vienna, where Mozart spent the last decade of his life. At that time, it was customary for ensembles to perform serenades in Vienna’s parks and gardens, and the creation of such pieces became a lucrative source of income for composers.
Mozart produced many serenades, and the 13th is his best known. The work has four movements:
- Allegro This first movement is in sonata-allegro form. It opens with an ascending Mannheim rocket theme. The second theme is more graceful and in D major, the dominant key of G major. The exposition closes in D major and is repeated. The development section begins on D major and touches on D minor and C major before the work returns to G major for the recapitulation.
- Romanze: Andante The second movement, in C major, is a “Romanze”, with the tempo marked Andante. A feeling of intimacy and tenderness remains throughout this movement. It is in rondo form, taking the shape A–B–A–C–A plus a final coda. The keys of the sections are C major for A and B, and C minor for C. The middle appearance of A is truncated, consisting of only the first half of the theme. Heartz describes the movement as evoking the gavotte rhythm: each of its sections begins in the middle of the measure, with a double upbeat.
- Menuetto: Allegretto The third movement, marked Allegretto, is a minuet and trio, both in 3/4 time. The minuet is in the home key of G major, and the contrasting trio is in the dominant key of D major. As is normal in this form, the minuet is played again da capo following the trio.
- Rondo: Allegro The fourth and last movement is in lively tempo, marked Allegro; the key is again G major. The movement is written in sonata form. Mozart specifies repeats not just for the exposition section but also for the following development and recapitulation section. The work ends with a long coda.
Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble
The Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble was founded by Lars Brolin in 1971 and performs on period instruments. The ensemble is named after Drottningholm Palace just outside Stockholm, now the permanent residence of the King and Queen of Sweden. On the palace grounds stands a theatre built in 1766 and completely preserved in its original condition.
Extensive tours in Europe have earned the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble an enviable reputation on the international concert scene. The Ensemble has also toured frequently in the Far East (to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia) and was one of the first Swedish ensembles to visit China, accompanying the King and Queen of Sweden on a state visit to Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. The ensemble’s first tour to the USA in 1985 received splendid reviews, not least in New York and Washington D.C.
The ensemble has worked with conductors such as Andrew Parrott, Christopher Hogwood, Sigiswald Kuijken, and Eric Ericson. Many TV appearances and radio recordings testify to the ensemble’s international standing, and it has made numerous recordings for BIS including a highly acclaimed version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
- Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on Wikipedia
- Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on Encyclopedia Britannica website
- Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble on bis.se
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