Mozart Redesign: the Five Craziest Re-Compositions and Cadenzas

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Mozart’s influence on his fellow composers is strongly felt, even today. Composers have paid tribute to this classical-era inspiration by re-working his music in various ways, creating imaginative variations and their own musical commentaries. Here are five of the most surprising revisions and tributes to Mozart’s music.

Tune in to 98.1 Classical KING FM all throughout the month of January for 31 Days of Mozart, our celebration of favorite works by the classical Wunderkind.

5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart/Timo Andres: Piano Concerto No. 26 “Coronation” for Chamber Orchestra and Piano

Mozart’s “Coronation” Concerto has a unique feature: the manuscript lacks notes in the left hand. It’s assumed that Mozart didn’t need to notate it, simply providing his own improvisation in performances of the work. There is a standard completion, filling out the score for modern performers, but it stops short of the sure magic of Mozart’s on-the-spot virtuosity that audiences flocked to see. American composer Timo Andres has taken a novel approach to this work, adding a left hand part that is all his own and effectively creating a new work that is half Andres, half Mozart. This stunning transformation achieves unmistakable, if polarizing, results. If you find the first movement too much to handle, give the more lush and lyrical second movement a try.

4. Igudesman and Joo: Rondo alla molto Turca

These guys first showed us how much comic potential there is in adding little tweaks to Mozart’s music with their infamous Mozart Bond sketch. They’re back at it in this skit from their “AND NOW MOZART” tour, where they give the Rondo alla Turca movement of his Piano Sonata No. 11 a spicy twist. We hope that Mozart would have laughed as hard as this huge audience.

3. Apap Cadenza to Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major

The French violinist Gilles Apap’s cadenza to Mozart’s G major concerto veers quickly into anachronistic territory, adding virtuosic fiddling, stomping, drumming, whistling, and singing. In about eight minutes, Apap travels around the world and through at least three centuries. Genius, or nonsense? You decide.

2. Tribal: Mozart Meets Trap

We’re back to the Rondo alla Turca from Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11, which has inspired all sorts of creations in the world of electronic dance music, ranging from pretty interesting to downright terrible. Whatever you think of this music, the launchpad controller technique here is a sight to behold, and it’s especially fascinating to see the DJ translate Mozart’s piano music directly to the keypad.

1. Arcadi Volodos: Rondo alla Turca “arrangement”

There’s not a whole lot of Mozart left by the end of this barn-burning encore piece, perfectly suited to the lightning fingers of Yuja Wang. It’s easy to get carried away by the party, as the innocent opening disguises an explosive few minutes of music.

Honorable Mention: Overture to Abduction from the Seraglio, expanded with Turkish music

The overture to an opera set in a Turkish harem, this work by Mozart included trendy, exotic musical sounds that evoked Turkish Janissary music. This performance of the work is truly something special, however; incorporating actual Turkish instruments and adding extended sections of Turkish music at the beginning, middle, and end, it goes beyond Mozart’s classical-era mock-up for an aesthetic much more authentic to the opera’s setting.

Some other memorable tributes to Mozart include Beethoven’s 7 Variations on “Bei Mannern weiche Leibe fuhlen” from Mozart’s Magic Flute, Reger’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart, and Sor’s Introduction and Variations on a Theme by Mozart.

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