After Mozart After Bach


Oft-heard string trios from Mozart, based on various works by J.S. Bach, and one from his son W.F. Baron van Swieten, one of the most important patrons of his day (Beethoven, Haydn, as well as Wolfgang would pass through his salons) introduced the composer to Bach’s scores. “Every Sunday at twelve o’clock I go to Baron van Swieten’s,” Mozart corresponded to his father on April 10, 1782, “And nothing is played there but Bach and Handel.” The discovery of these, musicologist Alfred Einstein argues, was the turning-point in Mozart’s style. Mainly borrowed from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Mozart’s trios transpose Bach’s “far out” keys (he hated too many flats and sharps), and offered his own intro to each. Yoko Mitsahushi did this galant art for Nonesuch, portraying three musicians balanced precariously on a balustrade. A bat is swooping down on lefthand side. Not sure what the owls are doing there — maybe they are not what they seem.

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