Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Die ihr des unermesslichen Weltalls Schöpfer ehrt, cantata for voice & piano, K. 619

    Description by Rovi Staff

    It is a testament to Mozart's prolific nature that his over 30 songs are a mere "blip" in the catalogue of his works--so minor a component of his output that they are frequently overlooked or ignored. More important than their number, however (after all, Henri Duparc achieved fame on the merit of a mere 16 songs), is the fact that Mozart's songs were composed before the great flowering of Romantic poetry and ideology that would bring Germanic song to its pinnacle in the Nineteenth Century. The remarkable confluence of music and poetry that appeared in the works of Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, and Hugo Wolf made the diminutive lied a vessel for Romantic outpouring and a unique distillation of the Nineteenth Century spirit. However, often overlooked is the extent to which the Romantic lied was indebted to a long standing tradition of Germanic song, and specifically the songs of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven--the authors of the first true masterpieces of the genre.

    Though not extensive, Mozart's song output is extremely various, including songs in German, French and Italian. They illustrate the breadth of his talent for vocal composition, the cosmopolitan nature of his musical influences, and the degree to which his musical choices were shaped by poetry. Of his German songs, "Das Veilchen" (The Violet) is his best known and regarded. "Das Veilchen" is a setting of Wolfgang von Goethe, perhaps the most famous of the Romantic poets, and it shows Mozart attentiveness to text. Subtle changes of inflection, modality, and vocal contour bring out the tragic irony of Goethe's ostensibly simple poem and create a psychological mini-drama, foreshadowing the direction lieder composition would take under the influence of a new generation of poets. Other fine German songs include "Abendempfindung" (Evening Reflections) and "An Chloë" (To Chloe)--both of which illustrate Mozart's ability to highlight the mood of a poem within an overtly lyrical context--and the comical "Warnung" (Warning), which warns parents to "lock away their young maidens".

    Mozart's two Italian songs, not surprisingly, resemble operatic arias in their style and construction. "Ridente la calma" (Tranquility fills my soul) is reminiscent especially of the composer's arias for his opere serie, and "Un moto di gioja" (A surge of joy) was intended to replace Susanna's "Deh vieni, non tardar" from the fourth act of The Marriage of Figaro.

    "Oiseaux, si tous les ans" (Birds, if every year…) and "Dans un bois solitaire" (in a lonely wood), Mozart's two French songs, were written during a stay in Mannheim, and they are remarkable mostly as examples of the composer's adaptability to language. Whether composing in Italian, German, or French, he managed to highlight the flow, stress, and cadence of the particular text without ever sacrificing his individual melodic gift. Although the French songs were very popular when written, they have since become better-known in German translation.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 BIS BIS 2294
    2017 CPO 7779172
    2017 Lawo Classics LWC 1111
    2016 Belvedere BCD 08022
    2015 Harmonia Mundi HMU 907611
    2015 Belvedere BCD 10156
    2011 Hyperion CDH 55371
    2010 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 5099945543
    2010 Decca
    2009 Naxos 8570897
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 907500
    2008 Naxos 8557900-01
    2008 Philips 4646602
    2008 Cypres Records 1650
    2007 EMI Classics 87894
    2006 Cascavelle 3080
    2006 ATMA Classique 22327
    2006 Orfeo 709062
    2006 EMI Classics
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 355685-2
    2006 EMI Classics 3556822
    2006 Philips
    2005 Brilliant 92540
    2004 Challenge Records 72054
    2003 Brilliant 99944
    2003 EMI Classics 85198
    2002 Arion 68134
    2000 Polygram 454475
    2000 Philips 000586602
    1999 Cedille Records 49
    1998 Hyperion 66989
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 569567-2
    1995 Novalis 150081
    1994 RCA 61635
    1994 Supraphon 1121552
    1992 Vox 5055
    1991 Philips 422522
    1990 Decca
    1990 London 425722
    Rene Gailly 92013
    Brilliant 92631
    Brilliant 92631/20
    Brilliant 99944/5
    Ars Produktion 368321
    Accento 301
    Capriccio Records 10446
    Adda 581017