Friday, November 25, 2005


Mozart: Symphony in G minor (K.550)

The Symphony in G minor (K.550) is serious, almost somber in character, and signalizes Mozart's nearest approach to genuine, conscious dramatic expression in his instrumental works. The scoring is unusual and striking: there are no clarinets (only flutes, oboes and bassoons); two horns but no trumpets; and no drums, throughout, notwithstanding the strong emotional emphasis which characterizes the Symphony. There is no Introduction. The Development deals constantly with the principal Theme, in various keys and various combinations.

The second Movement is an Andante of surpassing loveliness. The design in sonata-allegro.

The Minuet, which follows as the usual third Movement, is of that animated, quickened type, introduced by Haydn, that induced Beethoven to substitute for it the name Scherzo (in his Second, Third, and other Symphonies, and in many piano Sonatas and Chamber-music works). Note the spacing in 3-measure Phrases, and the effective syncopation at the beginning. The Trio contrasts in the major mode

The Finale is more serious, more "symphonic," than the traditional closing Movement. The Development begins with an extremely curious, rhythmically and melodically disjointed extension of the principal motive, weirdly humorous. The rest is made completely of the principal Phrase, in masterly contrapuntal and modulatory elaboration. The Recapitulation is a nearly exact reproduction of the Exposition, with the prescribed transpositions.

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