K 627: CONCERTO FOR PIANO AND ORCHESTRA IN F MAJOR, IN THE SPIRIT OF W. A. MOZART for solo piano, two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two French horns, timpani and string orchestra (6,5,5,4,2). 2003. 30 minutes. Score and parts available through PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.

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        I        Maestoso—Presto Precipitando
       
II       Largo Appassionato
       
III      Allegro Giusto


K 627 was composed during the spring and summer 2003 in the midst of composing music for the soundtrack of the feature film Mozart Loves Me written and directed by George Bloomfield and based on an idea by Toronto artist Louisa Varalta. In the script, a 35-year-old Mozart, who is one of the three central characters in the film and who in reality is a figment of Big Lou’s, the lead female character’s, imagination is busy writing a new piano concerto for her. The original plan was to show Mozart composing one of his existing concerti for the occasion, which he presents to Big Lou as his newest work, but I felt that his bluff would be instantly called by any music lover in the theater who knows his/her Mozart well. I suggested that I attempt to actually compose two brief sections of a piano concerto in the Mozart style which could be used for the purpose of these few scenes in the movie instead of an authentic Mozart work. A few days after making the suggestion, I had written what would become the music of the opening and closing credits and also the material for the second and third movement of this hypothetical piano concerto. I rather liked the results and so did the director, producer, cinematographer and main actors of the film. Soon after that a pilot consisting of several scenes from the film was shot and, as I was waiting for the film edits of the pilot to "lock" so that I could commence writing the soundtrack music, I started revisiting the music of the opening credits. Less than a week later I had the entire third movement of K 627 completed and copied and at that point I knew that it was a question of time before I would write an entire concerto for the occasion, not just fragments. The work focuses extensively on Mozart’s own sound. It is not a conscious attempt to mimic his sound, but rather to intuitively decipher his compositional thinking and then apply it to the new work in ways that on occasion deviate from his own harmonic/melodic vocabulary. The Mozart of the film is not a historical figure, but a psychological projection by someone who loves his music so, in this sense at least, the music did not require historical authenticity beyond what would render it recognizable as something Mozart could have possibly written. Furthermore, as the film character lives and breaths in the twenty-first century, albeit virtually, he begins to get exposed to things modern and one can only assume that this should have an effect on his compositional thinking, however slight. So the virtuality of this imaginary character is best depicted musically when the music occasionally deviates from the historical model. Independently of the requirements of the film, I see K 627 not as an artistic forgery, but as an act of abdication of one’s ego in order to be in a better position to musically communicate with the spirit of a great master; a spiritual journey and not just a technical feat.

Cast in the traditional sonata form, the first movement of K627 is unorthodox in several ways. The solemn Haydnesque introduction (Maestoso), more typical of a symphony than a concerto, gives way to a frantic Presto Precipitando in which the piano is introduced immediately and not after a complete orchestral exposition as would normally be the case in a classical concerto. While the playful first theme in F major is Mozartian in both sound and intention, the broody second theme sounds romantic and is in the relative minor key, a rather unusual deviation from the norm. It is followed by a development section, whose harmonic progressions and orchestral textures are occasionally reminiscent of Beethoven or even Schumann. A short recapitulation in which the second theme re-appears in its original key area is followed by a short piano cadenza andand even shorter orchestral coda. Beyond the surface organization of the material in a traditional sonata form, the real structure of the first movement consists of an interplay between the asymmetrical foreground and a symmetrical background. Thus the occasionally impulsive and uneven phrases, which would normally cause fragmentation of the overall structure, are held together by a background structure of 8, 16 and 32 measure units.

The second movement, Largo Appassionato, begins with a typical Mozartian melody and for a while it stays within the confines of the Mozart style. Half-way through this monothematic movement, however, the music undergoes a series of motivic and stylistic transformations breaking out into stylistic eras as removed from Mozart as Rachmaninoff and Broadway. The compositional challenge in this movement for me was to depict through sound these various musical eras in a way that Mozart would, if time travel was possible. In other words the question foremost in my mind was: how would Mozart be influenced by Rachmaninoff, had he been able to hear the latter’s music? Eventually the music resigns to the broodiness of the opening melody and dies away very quietly and in Mozart’s own language.

The finale, Allegro Giusto, was the first movement I composed (the entire concerto was composed backwards: from the end to the beginning). With the exception of one measure in the first thematic group whose harmonic character is more akin to Prokovieff than to Mozart, the rest of the music is in the Mozart style and in sonata form, albeit with no transitions whatsoever between the various sections. The first theme was originally composed as music for the opening credits of the Mozart Loves Me film. The second theme is in the subdominant key area, is even more Mozartian than the first and modulates within itself allowing for harmonic variation particularly within the development section. The development section travels into remote key areas, transforms the first theme into a fugato and is interrupted by the final piano cadenza and another fugato before returning to the recapitulation and the eventual conclusion of the work. The entire movement is light-hearted and youthful, reminiscent of the first movement and of a Mozart towards the end of his life defying the fates with good humor and his trademark incorrigible optimism.


Dedicated to George Bloomfield and Louisa Varalta
whose love of Mozart has inspired this work;

to my dear firend Nikos Evdemon
whose friendship and brilliant cinematography have re-kindled my interest in writing music for film;

and to my early music teachers Charalambos Kehaides and Menelaos Mourtzopoulos
who have taught me, and nurtured my love for, the classical style.


Premiere performance: May 14, 2007. Maria Asteriadou, piano; The Camerata Orchestra of Athens, Alexander Myrat, conducting. Dimitri Mitropoulos Hall, Athens Concert Hall, Athens, Greece.


 

Reviews and Comments:

Christos Hatzis, whose Pyrrichean Dances for viola, percussion and strings we had the opportunity to relish in February of 2006 in its European premiere, is one of the most inspired contemporary Greek composers of the Diaspora. Drawing inspiration from the Greek and Byzantine musical traditions as well as traditions from other cultures, American minimalism, 20th century composers, jazz and electronic music, Christos Hatzis has developed an extremely attractive personal musical idiom, which manages to bridge the gap between classical music and contemporary popular musical trends.K 627: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in the Spirit of W. A. Mozart is informed by this spirit. Composed in 2003 at a time when the composer was writing music for the feature film “Mozart Loves Me” by George Bloomfield, this three-movement concerto represents an effort by the composer to decode the musical temperament of Mozart. With the sounds and style of the great classical composer as a starting reference, Christos Hatzis journeys musically and visits the music of leading composers such as Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and Prokovief, creating in the process a work of inimitable aesthetic perfection. The solo part, interpreted by pianist Maria Asteriadou, is particularly demanding in terms of skill and expression. ClassicalMusic http://news.pathfinder.gr/culture/classical-music/398503.html (Greece) May 4, 2007.

 

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