Friday, 7 January 2011

Genius of Mozart, BBC Radio 3, 1-12 January 2011

Two thoughts strike me listening to back to back Mozart playing now on Radio 3.

My radio is in my bedroom, so I hear the music from the distance of my living room/office and it sounds like there's a party going on back there. A late 18th century house party. Mozart's music is a witty raconteur endlessly keeping his audience chuckling with delight; hia nudging sauciness, mirth and joy. He's irrepressible - impossible to resist. And even when the music turns towards the shadows as it does in the slow movement of the Clarinet Quintet K 581, there is still beauty - an aching melancholy.

My other thought is about Mozart's unsurpassed invention. Take the sonata for two pianos, K448 of 1871 written when he was 25. Like so much classical music this is built on the idea of a theme and its variations. A simple melody is inverted, ornamented, stretched, shrunk and played with before returning to its original form. This is classic sonata form. It is a journey that yo-yos back to its beginning.

Yet the melody is refreshed and renewed upon its return. And this particular melody and journey improves the spatial awareness center of our brains, known as the 'Mozart Effect'. Sufferers of epilepsy had fewer seizures after listening to this sonata, according to the British Epilepsy Organization. So I'm left marveling at Mozart's joyful invention that is also - hurrah! - improving my brain.

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