My back is messed up today. I almost skipped today's diary. But then I realized I haven't skipped one since we started this a year ago, so I'll grin and bear it and just pull something out of my rear orifice that will astound and delight without requiring massive work on my part.
The Mozart String Quintet in G minor K. 516 fits that bill perfectly. I don't need to research anything because I know it by heart, having heard it so many times. And I suspect most of the regular readers here have never heard it.
Now, I know, some people hate chamber music, some love it. For the haters, give this a try. You might surprise yourself.
I'm going to skip the excellent first movement and go to the second movement, one I love to play for people who think Mozart's too simple for their own more sophisticated tastes. But if you're hardcore, you can hear the first movement here(part 1) and here(part 2) before we begin.
But I'd rather start with the more complicated second movement!
Mozart String Quintet #5 in G minor K. 516, second movement Menuetto Allegretto.
Artists unknown Performed by Hausmusik London.
I'm going to hazard a guess that that's the Takacs Quartet. If you know better, tell us. Agrenadier informs me that it's actually Hausmusik London.)
This whole quintet is one of Mozart's most emotional, certainly for me. But this second movement is a deluxe head trip. The string parts are often out of phase and collide creating weird, addictive rhythmic effects. I've listened to this I don't know how many times, but I still find myself sometimes lost and trying to find my place in it. Usually, Mozart's melodies are very easy to pluck out on an instrument like a guitar or recorder. Not this one!
A quick observation for anybody new to Mozart's chamber music: Mozart composed complicated music for BAD PLAYERS. At a time when most work for great musicians involved sucking up to nobility or higher clergy, selling written chamber music scores to publishers was a good way of making extra cash. There was a substantial market for music compositions for the family to play at home. And since it was designed to be played by families, it couldn't be difficult virtuoso music, as Beethoven composed for his quartets, works that would be too hard for mama, papa, and the two baby bears to play with their student violins. The music itself may be hard, but the playing of it was meant to be easy.
Now on to the third movement, when you're ready. The third movement is one of the most sentimental pieces of music that Mozart ever composed. The intellectual Mozart of the second movement gives way to the emotional Mozart of this movement.
Mozart String Quintet #5 in G minor K. 516, third movement: Adagio ma non troppo.
I'm going to give in to temptation and analyze this one a little bit, something I told myself I wouldn't do. It's in an abbreviated Sonata-allegro form.
The first theme, very sentimental and in a major key, is from 0:00 to 1:17. There is a somewhat tense bridge passage then as it changes key and prepares for the second theme, which begins at 1:43. This second theme in a minor key is tragic with some dramatic moments. Then it moves on to the codetta at 2;35, brazenly optimistic after the previous part. There is no development section.
The recapitulation (repeat of everything) starts at 3:36. Everything is repeated almost verbatim, with little surprises in the connecting material between the different parts.
And now for the final movement:
Mozart String Quintet #5 in G minor K. 516, fourth/final movement: Adagio--Allegro.
This movement is deceptive at first. It begins with a VERY tragic introduction for the first two and a half minutes, a small movement in its own right. (This is not common in Mozart, although, later, Beethoven did this quite a bit.) This whole quintet in G minor has been very dark until now, and darkest now, at the beginning of the fourth movement. And then, as this slow introduction part ends, we enter new more positive territory.
Mozart hated sad serious endings to his music. I can point, for instance, to the ending of his Piano Concerto #20 in D minor. With the end of the Adagio section of this movement, it launches straight at 2:45 into a very joyous Rondo in G major. The contrast to all that has gone before is the more stark for it.
Notice, too, how simple the main theme of this rondo is, at 2:45 to 3:04. Too simple, eh? Boring, all by itself, maybe. But Mozart prefers to begin complicated movements with VERY simple material and then elaborate from there.
As I mentioned a couple of diaries back, the format of a Rondo movement is ABACADA... alternating the A section with new material. Often the new material (B,C,D...) are variations on A. The simple little dumpling of a theme at 2:45 is our A theme. That's as far as I'll break that down.