Hyperion Records

Oboe Concerto in C major, K314

'Mozart & Krommer: Oboe Concertos' (CDH55080)
Mozart & Krommer: Oboe Concertos
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Movement 1: Allegro aperto
Track 1 on CDH55080 [6'59] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 2: Adagio non troppo
Track 2 on CDH55080 [6'09] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service
Movement 3: Rondo: Allegretto
Track 3 on CDH55080 [5'32] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Archive Service

Oboe Concerto in C major, K314
The history of Mozart’s Oboe Concerto, one of his most frank and charming middle-period works, is obscure: little can be taken for granted and what is known is hedged about with ifs and buts. However we do know for a fact that on 1 April 1777 Giuseppe Ferlendis, an Italian oboist, arrived in Salzburg to take up his position in the court orchestra. Some time that year Mozart wrote an oboe concerto for Ferlendis, and despite his retaining the work when he travelled to Mannheim, where Friedrich Ramm played it so often that Mozart referred to it as ‘Ramm’s battle-horse’, Mozart never gave enough indication to identify the work unambiguously. He never even referred to its key. During the 1780s he sent a copy of the work to Anton Mayer, an oboist at Esterházy. Apparently his copy has not survived.

While in Mannheim, Mozart received a commission from a Dutch merchant whom he called de Jean (possibly Dechamps or Deschamps) for three little flute concertos and some flute quartets. Since Mozart disliked composing for the flute he found the commission onerous; in fact, only two of the three concertos were delivered to de Jean, and he lost them!

Our final fact concerns the rediscovery of the Oboe Concerto. The composer and musicologist Dr Bernhard Paumgartner claimed to have come across parts for an Oboe Concerto in C ‘del Sigre W A Mozart’ whilst working in the archives of the Salzburg Mozarteum in 1920. Despite his statement that these parts ‘according to the paper and writing, must have been made in Vienna in the eighteenth century’, Paumgartner avers that this is the concerto Mozart composed for Ferlendis in 1777 in Salzburg, 150 miles away.

Turning to our own conjectures, we may assume that Mozart, having composed one new work, the Flute Concerto in G, K313, and feeling disinclined to squander his efforts on another, took the ‘Ferlendis’ oboe concerto and reworked it for flute to fulfil de Jean’s commission. Dr Paumgartner doubtless found an oboe concerto in Salzburg, but its solo part differs in many details from that of the Flute Concerto in D, K314. Furthermore, those differences appear to put the oboe version at a remove from Mozart’s style. Was the oboe part tampered with either before or—dare one suggest it?—after Paumgartner discovered it?

Sarah Francis is not the first to voice dissatisfaction with this oboe part. She has compared it with the flute version and made a number of alterations, taking the flute part in preference where it seemed closer to Mozart’s style. Her amendments have the effect of changing the line so that awkward triplets become fluent semiquavers, the unsatisfactory bars in the oboe version immediately before the cadenza of the first movement have been replaced by the much more Mozartean version in the Flute Concerto; in the finale a high A in bar 116 is lowered an octave to agree with bar 118 and the string phrase in bars 45, 47, 233 and 235, phrasing has been made consistent in parallel passages (notably in the upbeat to the theme of the finale) and the second movement is taken at Andante rather than the, for Mozart, uncharacteristic marking ‘Adagio non troppo’. Miss Francis plays her own cadenzas and adds an extra small cadenza at bar 123 in the finale, where Mozart’s fermata invites the soloist to make some slight preparation for the return of the Rondo theme.

from notes by Robert Dearling © 1990

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