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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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January 12, 2006

Celebrating Mozart, in all his glorious complexities

We’ve arrived not only in the Mozart year but are rapidly approaching the actual 250th birthday on January 27. There are endless commemorations large and small but this week’s Saint Paul Sunday with the Brentano String Quartet give us an intimate glimpse of an elusive and deeply touching Mozart masterpiece – the String Quartet in A, K. 464. There is an extraordinary play of shadow and light in this piece, an ambiguity of mood coupled with inspiration of almost aching beauty.

It is in a major key, which should indicate a “happy key” in the terminology of rudimentary music appreciation texts. But Mozart has an ability to bring a depth and complexity of emotion so that his music eludes such stereotypes. A young quartet player once said to me of the opening theme, “that’s the saddest music ever written in a major key.” And it’s that ambiguity, the passing cloud and moment of shadow on seemingly the sunniest day, which makes us aware of the fleeting nature of that beauty. I loved working with the wonderfully thoughtful and generous hearted musicians of the Brentano Quartet in this session. They are very rare in their understanding of Mozart and, in their playing of this particular quartet, imprinted it into my awareness so deeply that I can’t get it out of my head. That’s exactly what makes Mozart matter so much to us 250 years after his birth.

- Ara Guzelimian, guest host of Saint Paul Sunday

Posted by at January 12, 2006 9:19 AM



For your Web listening pleasure, this show has been encoded in FM Radio quality stereo on Windows Media.

Happy 25 Anniversary!

By Preston Wright - Web producer at January 13, 2006 11:44 AM