Happy 254th, Wolfgang; celebrate Mozart's birthday by choosing a favorite work
There's nothing more pointless -- or more fun -- than choosing favorite composers or compositions. That's why those what-recordings-would-you-take-to-a-desert-island questions have long been so popular. It forces you to take a good look at what really makes you tick musically, and why.
I thought the occasion of Mozart's 254th birthday on Wednesday offered a perfect excuse to drag out a favorites quiz in his honor. Whether you echo Rossini's view that "Beethoven is the greatest composer, but Mozart is the only one," or place Mozart somewhere lower on your personal list, I expect you still have your favorite Mozartean highs, those moments that floor you every time with their beauty and expressive power. If you could only choose one, what would it be, and why?
As for me, I could probably live with just "Ave verum corpus" or the slow movement of the Clarinet Concerto, or a whole bunch of other gems, but, ultimately, I'd have to select
the trio from "Cosi fan tutte." Maybe it's because of when I first heard it, well before I was even deeply into classical music. It was on the soundtrack of the groundbreaking film "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," a movie that affected me strongly. I still remember the scene when the Peter Finch character put the needle on a record (needle? record? what are those?) and I felt a pleasant shock as I heard the delicate floating accompaniment in the strings and the sound of the three voices emerge above it. Still gets me every time, even in so-so performances of the opera. I think it's simply perfect, and simply exquisite.
Of course, that can be said about any number of Mozart's creations, which is why he's still so popular two and half centuries after he was born, and why he still speaks so deeply to musicians and listeners alike. I've attached a clip of the sublime trio as my way of saying happy birthday, Wolfgang.
But enough about me. What do you think of my choice? No, wait, I'm serious. I do want you to weigh in and share the one Mozart work, or portion thereof, you just couldn't live without on that desert island.