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New Old Music: Mozart and Salieri

October 14th, 2008

Recently, as an exercise, I made a new arrangement of the allegretto grazioso, third movement, of Mozart’s piano sonata in B♭ major, K. 333, in which I chose to change the key but more to the point the modality, shifting the piece to a minor mode, and slowing it somewhat to better accommodate the minor. Getting that to the point that I was at least relatively satisfied with it, I chose to arrange the work for string quintet instead of solo piano. For the curious, the result can be heard on Last.FM or here.

By contrast, here is Horowitz Charles Rosen’s interpretation of the original:

For the purpose of this post, however, those are really neither here nor there but as impetus for what came after. Thinking about the situation, reminded by a reference to the play “Amadeus”, I thought it a shame and unfair that old Salieri’s works remain so widely unknown today, despite that, at least in my opinion, many of them are quite good. So I found myself thinking I ought to give him a little exposure as well to counterbalance the Mozart piece.

My available scores for his works are rather small, and recordings of any even more so, thus my options were few, but I settled on what I thought would be a workable option: I would do the two small movements, the Kyrie and Sanctus, from his Mass no. 1 in D major. The only score I have of it, however, is only that for SATB choir and organ, so that is the source I worked from (I’m aware there is a volume available that includes an orchestra accompaniment for this work, but I do not have access to it, so it does not inform the works which follow below).

As with the Mozart, I chose to change the modality to minor—B♭ minor in this case. Only minor modifications were needed for it, outside of the change of mode, but I reworked the organ for piano, and arranged the vocal lines for strings.

Once finished, I found I kept returning to the idea of the rest of the mass to the point that I began working on another piece, and then another, and so on until I had finished the whole work. I may yet tweak a phrase here or there, but for the nonce, here is a (possibly preliminary) recording of the new Mass in B♭ minor. Or the individual tracks may also be heard here:

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Daniel Dockery's Portfolio

animî nostrî dêbent interdum âlûcinâri