Mozart 252

Michael Nyman

Mozart 252 is a 2008 album by composer Michael Nyman (his 58th release) with the Michael Nyman Band. Contralto vocalist Hilary Summers is Wolfgang and bass vocalist Andrew Slater is Leopold Mozart. The album celebrates the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birth.

Although ‘Revisiting the Don,’ one of only two newly written works on the album, was commissioned and performed in 2006, the album’s title is a joke on its lateness as an album, released 252 years after Mozart’s birth.

The album also includes ‘In Re Don Giovanni,’ Nyman’s first composition for the band, which is based on the first fifteen bars of ‘Madamina, il catalogo è questo’ from ‘Don Giovanni,’ six selections from Peter Greenaway’s film, ‘Drowning by Numbers,’ in which he was instructed to base the music on the slow movement of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante K. 364, and two duets and an aria from Nyman’s television opera, ‘Letters, Riddles and Writs,’ in this recording featuring bass Andrew Slater as Leopold Mozart and contralto Hilary Summers as Wolfgang.

‘O my Dear Papa’ is translations of letters between Wolfgang and Leopold by Emily Anderson and ‘I Am an Unusual Thing’ her translation of a riddle and a reported conversation with Constanze Mozart, while the text of ‘Profit and Loss,’ describing Mozart’s earnings and expenses, is written by Jeremy Newson, co-librettist and director of the television opera. ‘O My Dear Son’ is based on ‘O Osiris und Isis’ from ‘Die Zauberflöte,’ and ‘I Am an Unusual Thing’ draws music from Mozart’s ‘Haydn Quartets,’ while ‘Profit and Loss’ overlays ‘In Re Don Giovanni’ and then goes in a darker direction based on the same material.

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