The Waterbury Symphony, Hartford Chorale and five soloists from the Yale School of Music — singers Nicole Leung MUS ’21, Martina Myskohlid MUS ’21, Jonghyun Park MUS ’21 and Phillip Lopez MUS ’21 along with violinist Yoon Be Kim MUS ’20 — will present a concert on Sunday featuring two famous Mozart works: his Violin Concerto No. 5 and Requiem.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an 18th-century Austrian composer of the classical period. He is famous for music like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the “Marriage of Figaro” opera and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Mozart was a child prodigy, pianist and prolific composer throughout his life, and at the age of eight, he wrote his first of 41 symphonies. At age 20, Mozart wrote his fifth and last violin concerto, and died in his late 30s while writing his last work: the Mozart Requiem. The concert will take place in the Naugatuck Valley Community College.

“It’s an opportunity to look at Mozart from either end of his professional career,” said Leif Bjaland, who will conduct the concert. Bjaland noted a contrast between the lighter, more carefree violin concerto and the dark and beautiful Requiem.

Mozart’s fifth violin concerto spans half an hour and is split into three movements: Allegro aperto, Adagio and Rondeau — Tempo di Menuetto. It is known as the “Turkish” concerto because several themes in the third movement draw from Hungarian folk music. Chromaticism, which does not often appear in classical period music, and col legno, a practice of hitting the strings with the wood of the bow instead of the hair, create these effects.

Kim will perform the concerto’s solo violin part, as the winner of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artist Concerto Competition Clark Prize. The prize was awarded at a competition held last fall.

According to Bjaland, the violin concerto “reflects the sensibilities of a carefree 20-year-old man. It’s joyful, it’s athletic and it’s buoyant.”

Kim called the piece “one of the most challenging concertos for violinists because it has to be really light and fun but is also really hard to play cleanly.”

Kim learned the first movement of the concerto for the first time when she was 11 and has continued to play it on and off ever since. Two summers ago, she studied the work in its entirety while in Salzburg, where Mozart wrote the piece.

Cadenzas, virtuosic solo passages where the orchestra does not play, are characteristic to concertos like Mozart’s fifth. Mozart did not write his own cadenzas for the work, and most violinists choose from a handful of cadenzas written by well-known violinists. Kim wrote her own cadenzas for the performance.

The second half of the concert contains Mozart’s Requiem. Because Mozart died while writing it, his wife Constanze commissioned another man, part-copyist and part-student Franz Xaver Sussmayr, to complete the Requiem.

Sussmayr completed the work within a year of Mozart’s death. Since Mozart had only written the vocal lines, Sussmayr added all of the orchestration and finished movements Mozart had sketched. The work features four Yale Opera soloists who sing several of the movements as a quartet.

“[The story behind the Requiem] adds a new dimension to the music,” said Lopez, who will sing the bass part. “When I sing it, I think about the fact that Mozart only really wrote the vocal parts when he passed away.”

Sussmayr’s completion splits the work into 14 movements which align with the texts of a traditional Requiem mass.

Many know the work for its intense drama and broad spectrum of emotions.

“Mozart’s profundity of spirit served him well in what he was able to complete of the Requiem,” Bjaland said.

Since Sussmayr’s version, several other musicologists and composers have created their own versions of Mozart’s Requiem based on what they now know about Mozart’s style of orchestration, as well as new documents that have been discovered.

Bjaland chose the Sussmayr version not because it is the most commonly performed version, but because “it’s the closest to Mozart regardless of anything else. He was in the room with Mozart, and it’s the closest we have to a real document.”

The Waterbury Symphony is a regional professional orchestra formed in 1938, and its members come from across the New England and tri-state areas. The Hartford Chorale is a 140-member chorus which often collaborates with orchestras including the Hartford Symphony.

 

Phoebe Liu | phoebe.liu@yale.edu