Gran Partita

The Society of Sound recording of the LSO Wind Ensemble playing the Mozart Serenade in B flat, K361 ‘Gran Partita’.

This is the second release in the Society of Sound project to highlight the work of individuals and groups within the LSO.

Until recently, all LSO recordings released by the Society of Sound have been from the existing LSO Live catalogue. The Gran Partita is the second release in a series of recordings, sponsored by B&W, which will initially be available exclusively to members of The Society of Sound.

This project is also an important development for the LSO and LSO Live. LSO principal players are all exceptional soloists and we have been looking for a way to celebrate this on record. B&W’s offer to sponsor a series of chamber music recordings has provided the perfect solution and this release highlights the LSO wind group in one of the most challenging pieces in the wind ensemble repertoire.

In the 1984 film ‘Amadeus’ Antonio Salieri’s first encounter with Mozart is at a performance of the ‘Gran Partita’. Mozart’s vulgar reputation had not impressed Salieri before the performance, but as he looks at the music on the page, he is astonished by the beauty of the solo oboe's entry in the famous Adagio, followed by the lucidity of the clarinet's line, leading him to say, “This was no composition by a performing monkey. This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God.” It is at this point that Salieri first questions how God could choose a vulgar man like Mozart as his voice. This question is an important theme of Peter Schaffer’s play on which the film is based.

The godlike quality of Mozart’s greatest music is often discussed and seldom resolved. Einstein found Mozart’s music so pure, and yet so profound, that it seemed to him the stuff that holds together the universe. To Pierre Boulez it was either ‘beyond imagining’ or ‘trivial’, possibly why he didn’t record much Mozart, although he did record the ‘Gran Partita’ coupled – somewhat strangely – with the Berg ‘Chamber Concerto’.

The glue that binds the universe or trivia, the LSO wind ensemble has played this extraordinary piece all over the world and their long familiarity with it shows in this recording, made in LSO St Lukes on October 31st 2015. Thanks to the players for their skill and musicianship and to B&W for the vision to make the recording possible.

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