For a musician, there may hardly be a extra perilous process than finishing works left unfinished by Mozart.
“It was bloody cheek of me to even try,” Timothy Jones stated in a latest interview.
What started as a musicological lark for Jones, a Mozart expert who teaches on the Royal Academy of Music in London, has now been captured on disc. His completions of a number of fragments for violin and keyboard have been launched on Friday on the Channel Classics label, performed by the violinist Rachel Podger and, on fortepiano, Christopher Glynn.
Posthumous completions should not unheard-of within the classical world. Mozart’s Requiem because it’s usually introduced accommodates a lot materials by Franz Xaver Süssmayr. Deryck Cooke’s realizations of Mahler’s 10th Symphony — of which solely a single motion was considerably completed at its composer’s loss of life — are broadly carried out, if nonetheless controversial in sure circles. Opera homes normally placed on the usual completions of Puccini’s “Turandot” and Berg’s “Lulu.”
The new Mozart-Jones recording is uncommon, although, in its choose-your-own-adventure strategy. Jones, testing totally different elements of Mozartian type, made a number of completions of every fragment, and the album contains a few of that selection, giving a heady sense of how open-ended inventive manufacturing is — how in another way symphonies (or work or novels) we all know and love may need ended up.
“The one big thing that came out of it for me,” Jones stated, “is that it sort of dramatizes the openness of even the finished scores.”
Jones bought into the completions game whereas researching a e book about Mozart’s late profession. Looking into the grasp’s sketches — over 100 instrumental fragments survive from his ultimate decade — and the way they slot in with the canonical works, Jones grew to become fascinated. But he wished to cope with them in what was, for a musicologist not less than, an unconventional method.
“There were things I wanted to say about these fragments which might be more easily said by dots on the page rather than prose,” he stated.
He experimented with finishing some chamber items, then a violin concerto from 1788. “It took on a life of its own,” he stated, “and it’s preoccupied me for the best part of seven years now.”
The fragments weren’t new discoveries; they’ve been identified for the reason that 19th century. But newer analysis, together with by the students Alan Tyson and Ulrich Konrad, helped date them extra exactly, permitting Jones to be centered in exploring the circumstances during which Mozart created them.
“Having a precise sense of the context for these fragments is what let me ask detailed hypothetical questions about what his compositional strategy might have been,” Jones stated. “What was he working on, listening to, his compositional interests? That was key, because his style is still evolving really quite fast up until he died, in 1791.”
Tyson’s analysis, which concerned shut research of the manuscript paper Mozart used, urged that one of many fragments, 34 dusky bars in the important thing of A, was from 1784. But the composer additionally used that sort of paper in 1787. So Jones affords completions that may have emerged from both possibility, together with one (extra extroverted) within the type of different items Mozart wrote in 1784, and one other (extra intimate) à la 1787.
What is believed to be the newest of the violin-keyboard sonata fragments — 31 exuberant but aching bars of an Allegro, in G — was dated by Tyson to Mozart’s ultimate two years, properly after his final accomplished violin sonata. One of Jones’s completions is meant to be harking back to the comparatively simple lyricism of that completed sonata (Ok. 547, in the usual chronological catalog). Another completion, although, sees the fragment as a part of a brand new starting circa 1790, with extra advanced harmonies borrowed from the Ok. 590 String Quartet and the Ok. 595 Piano Concerto.
“Which of those paths does one bend this movement toward?” Jones stated. To my style, whereas the harmonically thornier, extra overtly dramatic possibility is intriguing, the plainer pleasures of the opposite completion really feel extra correctly, properly, Mozartian.
But it actually — clearly — may go both method, notably since Podger and Glynn play each alternate options with a relish that pulls on broad expertise on this repertory. The new recording is an appendix of types to Podger’s eight-disc cycle of Mozart’s violin sonatas, a collaboration with the keyboardist Gary Cooper that was accomplished in 2009.
“When Chris and I played them through before lockdown,” she stated of Jones’s items, “I remember thinking, Gosh, do I believe this, do I believe that? I was constantly questioning myself, because Tim hadn’t written in where the fragment finished and where the new invention began. And we did stop at one stage, and one of us said, ‘Surely that must be Tim,’ and we checked, and it was Mozart.”
In scholarly circles, the response to Jones’s work has been optimistic — roughly. “Some think these are useless parlor games; some are a bit more used to them,” he stated. “Some people are so polite they won’t tell you to your face. There are Mozart scholars who know what I’ve been up to, and on the whole they’ve been interested. Yes, there are anxieties about doing counterfactual history. But I think of these as just pieces of criticism; they’re no different than improvising a cadenza.”
Emphasizing that he by no means got down to be a completions completist, Jones stated he was nearly achieved together with his undertaking posing as Mozart’s co-composer. “There are a few still interesting to me I haven’t tackled,” he stated. “But I want to move on and finish the book I interrupted to do all this.”
“Putting the hubris aside,” he added, “I’d much rather Mozart had finished these pieces than I.”