Reinhard Goebel, conductor
Having received all major recording industry
prizes of the world many times, as well as the Siemens Special Prize, the Buxtehude Prize of the City of Lübeck and the Special Prize of North-Rhine Westphalia, Goebel has still remained the leading outsider in the area of “Early Music” – always looking for new acoustic
worlds, shocking new ways of interpreting standard repertoire and uncomfortable programs
far off the beaten track of “top-40 classic programming”. Reinhard Goebel began studying
violin at the age of 12. He became interested
exclusively in “Early Music” at a young age, but was forced to proceed through a classic-
modern program of study by the German conservatory system. With the foundation of “Musica Antiqua Köln” in 1973, which received an exclusive contract with the Archiv section of Deutsche Grammophon in 1978, Reinhard Goebel profiled himself as one of the most important proponents of the continental early music scene, especially as an indisputable authority in the area of German baroque music. His recordings with Musica Antiqua Köln set standards – and for these he was inundated with international prizes and awards, including a number of Gramophone Awards. For some years now, Goebel has appeared increasingly as the conductor of other orchestras. In addition
to projects with ensembles which perform on historical instruments, like the New York Collegium, his particular interest lies in working with so-called “modern orchestras”.
He finds it an interesting challenge to reinterpret
17th and 18th century repertoire with these orchestras, to put Bach, Mozart and their contemporaries back in the programs of modern orchestras, after such works have been pushed onto the sidelines due to their seemingly more competent interpretation by early music ensembles. As a conductor, Reinhard
Goebel is not an every-day appearance: it is not a supposedly new view of known works that attracts him, but first-time contact
and realization of unknown works at the edges of the “grand-master” “map”. His goal is putting the “known” Mozart and Beethoven repertoire into perspective, either through comparisons with their own works or with works by their contemporaries – works which were sometimes more well-liked than those famous today. Goebel’s goal as a conductor is the same as his goal as a violinist: enriching the repertoire through his interpretations of noteworthy discoveries. And world-class soloists
whom he won for the Archiv productions of the DGG through his amazing quality – such as Anne Sofie von Otter, Christine Schäfer, Leonidas Kavakos, Kim Kashkashian, Jan Vogler and the Labèque sisters – are happy to follow him on the way to these “unknown masterpieces”.
Mozart in Paris
Get going to Paris! …and soon; get important
people on your side – either a Caesar or nothing; the single-minded idea to see Paris should have guarded you against all other diverging notions. It is from Paris that the fame and name of a man with huge talent reaches the whole world; there, nobles treat people of genius with the greatest regard, courteousness and patronage…” (Leopold Mozart to his son, 2/12/1778). Several months before, Wolfgang Amadeus had set off from the hated city of Salzburg, accompanied by his mother, to look, as it were, for a position. Leopold – whom Princely Archbishop Colloredo
would grant no leave – was both annoyed and alarmed, because his now adult “wunderkind”
was setting off on a journey without him. In the end, Leopold’s dark premonitions were confirmed: “Wolferl’s” passion for Aloysia Weber was enkindled in Mannheim, causing him to postpone continuing to Paris time and again until his father lost patience and put his foot down with the words quoted above, and then, after finally arriving in Paris, Anna Maria Mozart fell exceedingly ill and died on July 3,
1778. In addition, the city on the Seine did not provide as “corteous” a reception as Leopold had hoped…
What was Paris’s musical life like – from which the Mozarts had expected so much? France was an absolutist country in which the kings had had all power since Louis XIV. In the 17th century, this king had seen music as the means to express his unlimited powers, leading
to the foundation of the “Académie royale de musique” in 1669, which provided official support for music, but on the other hand, placed it under governmental control. Thus, before the rise of the “Concert spiritual”, it was difficult to organize public concerts in Paris, because only the royal music academy had the privilege of doing this. After Louis XIV’s death in 1715, the court had gradually lost its dominant position. It was just this withdrawal to Versailles that caused the court’s influence on the capital, where many longed for more independent musical organization, to wane.
The “Concert spiritual” series can be seen as a direct reaction to this. It existed from 1725 until 1791 in Paris and was pioneering for musical taste in 18th century France. It was founded by royal chapel composer and oboist Anne-Danican Philidor (1681–1728), who had wrested permission for this from Louis XV and the Académie. Concerts were only permitted on days when the opera did not perform (Lent, Sundays and holidays). At first – in keeping with the title of the series – only sacred music
was performed in these concerts. In the course of time, however, secular works also became part of the programs. Concerts in the series were performed in the “Salle des Cent Suisses” in the Tuileries palace, the city castle
of the French rulers which was originally the architectonic closure of the horseshoe-shaped Louvre formation in the Parc de Tuileries.
This hall burned to the ground in 1871 and has completely disappeared today.
We do have all programs of the concerts, however, and know exactly what was performed
because all titles have been passed down. Uncertainty arises solely in the case of the symphonies, because only “a new symphony” of this or that composer is noted. When a certain symphony was performed several times – which was the rule –, the programs almost always contain the words: “a symphony” and the name of its author. It is certainly accurate to imagine the musical scene in Paris as being just as large as the scene in Vienna at the same time. In the latter
city, it can be assumed that some 400 professional
freelance musicians were active in 1780.
The “Concert spiritual” had a competitor in the “Concert des Amateurs”, which had been originally founded in 1769 in the Marais quarter, in the Hôtel de Soubise, today’s site of the Archives nationals, and placed under the leadership of François-Joseph Gossec (1734–1829). In 1773, Joseph Boulogne de Saint-George (1745–1799) – a noble, violin virtuoso,
composer, conductor and fencing master
of African ancestry who was one of the age’s most scintillating figures – was named its new director. The “Concert des Amateurs” presented contemporary instrumental music and smaller music-theatrical works until 1781. After being disbanded, it was replaced by the “Concert de la Loge Olympique”, also led by Saint-George. By 1784, it had ordered the six symphonies from Joseph Haydn which have gone down in music history as the “Paris Symphonies”.
The program on this CD was never played per se at a “Concert spirituel”. The violin concerto
by Chevalier de Saint-George, possibly the most significant violinist during the development
of the classical violin technique, was no longer performed at the time of Mozart’s Paris stay in 1778/1779. In addition, an absolutely
authentic presentation of the works of one “Concert spirituel” would last at least three hours. The concerts were extremely long and contained an exotic mixture of works: the repertoire ranged from French and Italian arias to sonatas and then on to symphonies and solo concertos. In contrast, this recording represents the compositional achievements that the 22-year-old Mozart found in Paris.
It was here that the Salzburg native met with Johann Christian Bach (1735–1782) for the last time. Bach had been commissioned to write the opera Amadis de Gaules and thus came from England to Paris. Despite all the joy of the reunion, Mozart was sobered to some extent by the fact that Bach did not approach him as uninhibitedly as he had the one-time “wunderkind”, whom Bach had nothing less than indulged 14 years previously. In the meantime,
J.C. Bach must have seen a competitor in his younger colleague. Bach’s Symphony in D Major was simultaneously the overture
to Amadis de Gaules, and premiered some six months after the “Concert spirituel”-premiere of Mozart’s “Paris Symphony” K. 297.
Strictly speaking, Mozart’s own personality
was his biggest obstacle in Paris. He was haughty, arrogant and intolerant, and would have had to be much more patient and wait much longer than his character would allow. The French most certainly perceived Mozart’s skepticism towards them… And the royal court in Versailles? “In May 1778, it had completely
other troubles than ‘taking a Mozart under its wings’. Queen Marie Antoinette was pregnant for the first time – after eight long years of vain endeavors, during which not only Empress Maria Theresia constantly intervened
in writing, but also Joseph II himself traveled personally to Paris to tell his brother-in-law Louis XVI ‘how it is done’”, as Reinhard Goebel, conductor of this imaginary “Concert spiritual” mischievously notes. The works of Simon Le Duc (1742–1777) and Pierre-Montan
Berton l’Ainé (1727–1780), recorded here on CD for the first time, are of particular significance
for Goebel, who says, “One should approach these compositions with complete impartiality and then ask what Mozart could have learned from them or how others could have been ahead of him. It is always part of my artistic work to emphasize the concurrency of certain things – and not just to hop from one masterpiece to another. After all, music has uncommonly strong historicity, which does not mean in the slightest that it is antiquated, but that it relates to something that really exists. It comes from somewhere; i.e. it has roots… It is in this network that I want to integrate it, in order to be able to show connections.”
Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler