No 1: Minuet, K1
No 2: Klavierstück, K33
No 3: Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge, K596
I wrote these three transcriptions as a result of being invited by the 2006 Salzburg Festival to give a recital with a Mozart/contemporary theme. Not being able to find anything suitable with which to add a little modern twist, I thought I would compose something myself. Poulenc and Mozart seem to have little in common at first sight, but perhaps their similar sense of humour, with its naughty, child-like quality, as well as a love for melody and the human voice, gives them a certain kinship.
The Minuet and Klavierstück (Nos 1 and 2) are very early piano pieces of the utmost simplicity—no chords, merely two independent lines, one in each small-spanned hand. I have kept the childlike melodies exactly as in the original, but allowed the harmonies to wander down the most adult paths. The Minuet’s first four bars are original Mozart, but after that we slink into other ‘bars’ where Parisian aromas of Gauloises and Guerlain curl seductively around the melody. The Klavierstück recalls Poulenc in one of his Stravinskian moods—piquant, spiky and ironic—until it dissolves into the wound-down innocence of a music box. The late song Sehnsucht nach dem Frühlinge (No 3) is a precious shaving from the workbench of the third movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B flat major, K595. As in the Minuet, I have taken the original simple melody and added harmonic spice—sometimes seductive, sometimes strident.
from notes by Harriet Smith © 2008