Friday, January 27, 2017

Mozart with André Gide

It's almost impossible to say that one time is more apt for another for listening to Mozart. But he may be especially welcome in times of uncertainty, such is the clarity of his music. In his operas, of course, his compassion for and insight into the human condition is on full display. In this week of his birthday, though, I've been listening to K. 537. I was led to it by André Gide, whose journals I've been reading. In the summer of 1940, he found himself possessed by "constant, latent sadness," but never slowed his intellectual or emotional engagement with the world around him. And in listening to Mozart, Gide wrote this:

J'ai le coeur tout remis en place et regonflé par l'admirable Concerto en ré majeur de Mozart admirablement interprété par Wanda Landowska, dont la radio vient de me permettre d'entendre l'enregistrement. Force et bonté, grâce, esprit et tendresse, rien ne manque à cette oeuvre (que je reconnais note à note), non plus qu'au jeu parfait de l'artiste, qu'un de mes regrets sera de n'avoir pas plus souvent entendue."
By the time Gide wrote about his evening listening to Landowska, she had been forced by the advent of the Nazis to flee France, her adopted homeland. of this work full of "strength and goodness, grace, wit, and tenderness" may be found here. At least, I think this is the work Gide was referring to. An examination of Landowska's discography reveals that it might also have been K. 311:

If anyone has fuller information on Landowska's recordings of Mozart or Gide's taste in sonatas, I'd be delighted to hear it.

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