Ho!

Musical Authors
One of the “ten celebrated string quartets”, Mozart’s Quartet No 15 in D minor (K421) is notable for many reasons. For instance, Mozart’s wife Constanze is said to have told Vincent and Mary Novello that the rising melodic figures used throughout the unconventionally phrased second movement Andante were a reference to her cries from the other room while she was in labour with their first child, Raimund, on the seventeenth of June 1783. But the prompt for including this piece here was a passing comment I came across while re-reading Constant Lambert’s fascinating study of modern music from 1934, Music Ho! A Study of Music in Decline.  Here it is, from page 23 of the Pelican paperback’s 1948 reprint. “The Siciliana that forms the finale of the D minor quartet [is] a simple dance tune into which and its variations Mozart seems to have compressed the emotional experience of a lifetime”. As we have already seen (and will see in future posts), Lambert himself used the siciliana form for some of his most emotionally intense compositions.

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