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Track(s) taken from CKD320

Divertimento No 11 in D major, K251

July 1776

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Alexander Janiczek (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: June 2008
Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, Scotland
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: January 2009
Total duration: 23 minutes 13 seconds

Cover artwork: A dance in the summer house by Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'The Divertimento K251 may not have any moments that quite match the second Andante from K203, with its murmuring accompaniment on muted second violins and its ecstatic oboe melody, but its tunes are generally catchier. One of its movements is a courtly minuet which is played again between each of the following variations; to ring the changes on such a repetitive scheme Alexander Janiczek and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra imaginatively introduce drum-like pizzicatos and solo string passages. It's all undemanding but enjoyable stuff, and played here with unfailing musicality' (BBC Music Magazine)» More

'The SCO plays on its regular impressive form, with equal satisfaction coming from the strings and winds—the oboe in particular shines in the Rondeau of K251, but flutes, bassoon and the brass also make the most of their chances. Duncan Druce's note contains valuable material well presented, and the recording is of high standard, impressively balanced and attractively resonant. As usual with Linn, the product has been carefully planned, and looks as good as it sounds' (International Record Review)» More

'Fernab jeder Routine fordert Janiczek dem Orchester, das in jedem Takt auf seine Erfahrungen mit Mackerras zurückgreift, seine ganze Spielkultur ab. Das sind technisch bestens eingefangene Interpretationen, die Spaß machen und zudem einigen Repertoirewert (Colloredo Serenade) besitzen. Nur zu empfehlen!' (Pizzicato, Luxembourg)» More

The Divertimento, K251 is in the same key as the Serenade and similarly, is designed for summer entertainment. That said it is very different in both scale and design. Its instrumentation is reminiscent of the series of Divertimenti for strings and horns (K247, K287 and K334) intended for solo performance and featuring virtuoso parts for first violin. In K251, a shorter work, this element of concerto-like display is largely absent and though Mozart may have intended a performance by seven solo instruments, much of the writing has an orchestral character. Even the oboe has to wait for the third movement, the ‘Andantino’, for its first extended solo. The opening ‘Allegro’ is dominated by its spirited, catchy initial theme. Especially effective is the minor key version featuring the oboe. Shortly after this the jovial atmosphere is intensified, as all the instruments take up the theme’s characteristic rhythm.

The following ‘Minuet’ has a stately manner. The horns play in the low key of D major, lending a sonorous, opulent sound to the ensemble. The delicate ‘Trio’ section, by contrast, is scored for strings alone. The ‘Andantino’ is in rondo-style. Mozart revels in the sound of the new key, A major, making only limited excursions away from it; the first four bars of the recurring rondo are based entirely on the A major chord. The movement does, however, contain some delightful surprises. When the oboe takes over the theme, it is transformed and given a new continuation in which, after a pause and a short oboe cadenza, the rondo melody resumes at a faster tempo.

For the second ‘Minuet’, Mozart abandons the traditional ‘minuet & trio’ form, writing instead a sequence of variations that provide solos in turn for oboe, first violin and second violin; between each variation the ‘Minuet’ returns in its original form. The finale is another rondo that echoes the first movement’s vivacious, joyful mood. Halfway through, following a minor-key episode featuring solo oboe, a new theme in popular style is introduced. We can imagine that this is a quotation of a melody well-known to the original audience. Notably, similar quotations occur in the finales of the Violin Concertos K216 and K218, and the Divertimento, K287.

K251, like K203 and most of Mozart’s serenades and longer divertimenti, has an accompanying march. Since this ‘March’ is part of the autograph manuscript and not preserved separately, it doesn’t have its own Köchel number. Its title, ‘Marcia alla francese’ (French March), is likely a reference to its rhythmic basis, five beats, followed by three silent (or de-stressed) ones, the traditional pattern of drumbeats to which the French infantry marched. The pattern can be heard repeated in the bass part.

The manuscript of K251 bears the date July 1776. It has been suggested, though with no direct evidence, that it was composed as a name-day present for Wolfgang’s sister Nannerl (26 July). Certainly, from a letter he wrote two years later from Paris, we know that Mozart had in previous years composed music to celebrate the occasion. Nannerl would doubtless have fully appreciated this Divertimento’s wonderful craftsmanship and found such a sunny work a perfect celebratory gift.

from notes by Duncan Druce © 2008

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