From around the 1770s through to the late 1820s, central Europe was mad about harmoniemusik: music for wind ensemble. The classic harmonie line-up comprised matching pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns and bassoons (the wooden flutes of the period would have been inaudible) - an ideal ensemble when music was to be performed out of doors, at banquets and social gatherings; anywhere, basically, where it had to be heard over background chatter.
It’s hard to imagine Beethoven tolerating that: but this isn’t (despite the opus number) late Beethoven, but very early Beethoven – composed in Bonn in 1792 before he left for Vienna and only rediscovered after his death. It’s the work of a young composer out to make an impact, and some money – energetic, unashamedly cheerful and taking an obvious delight (especially in the headlong Minuetto) in the endless colours that can be created, kaleidoscope-like, by blending and contrasting those eight basic instruments. The finale is practically a musical fit of the giggles.
Mozart's Don Giovanni is a cold-blooded scoundrel, but his arrogant and hedonistic ways catch up with him after he kills a man and is haunted by the ghost of his sins. This film series was captured in the Asylum Chapel in Peckham. Despite being called an 'asylum', the historic space was never occupied by the criminally insane. Rather, it provided sanctury to those in need, which is perhaps a more fitting home for the likes of Don Giovanni who needed saving from himself.
MOZART t arr. Triebensee selection from Don Giovanni:
No. 5 La ci darem la mano
No. 8 Fin ch'ham del vino
No. 13 Deh vieni alla finestra
No. 19 Già la mensa è preparata
BEETHOVEN Octet in E flat op. 103
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