The unknown Mozart: Seong-Jin Cho to give world premiere of Allegro in D
What better way to celebrate Mozart’s birthday than with the world premiere of one of his compositions? Seong-Jin Cho is set to do just that in the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation on 27 January 2021, which is also the opening day of the Foundation’s first virtual Mozartwoche festival. The acclaimed pianist’s performance of the recently rediscovered Allegro in D K626b/16 will be streamed on Deutsche Grammophon’s DG Stage in the context of a full piano and lecture recital including other works by Mozart. A short version will be broadcast on DG’s YouTube channel as well as on the Mozarteum’s social media channels. The Yellow Label will further mark this truly unique occasion with the release on 29 January of Ninety-Four Seconds of New Mozart, Cho’s e‑single recording of the brief yet profoundly moving keyboard piece.
“Like every cultural institution in the world, we are facing enormous challenges right now. But with our digital Mozartwoche programme, the whole world can experience and celebrate Mozart’s genius in ten wonderful concerts, featuring some of the world’s best Mozartians,” comments Rolando Villazón, Artistic Director of the Mozartwoche. “The world premiere of the Allegro in D is the icing on the birthday cake for our beloved Mozart. I am thrilled it will be presented by the outstanding pianist Seong-Jin Cho, who has such a marvellous feeling for the tender humanity of Mozart’s melodies. Mozart’s music brings us solace in difficult times and is the shining light that lets us look forward to the time when audiences and performers will be able to meet again. For now, we have the chance to share the Mozartwoche experience online and witness a special moment in music history with this world premiere.”
This year’s planned Mozartwoche was cancelled following the Austrian government’s announcement of a third national lockdown in December. The annual festival, held at the Mozarteum since the bicentenary of Mozart’s birth in 1956, decided to mark the composer’s 265th birthday with an abbreviated programme specially redesigned for online streaming. The Allegro will be premiered as part of a 30-minute programme from Seong-Jin Cho, and will be introduced by Rolando Villazón and the Mozarteum Foundation’s Director of research, Dr Ulrich Leisinger.
“It is a great honour to be invited to give the premiere of a formerly unknown work by Mozart in the city where he was born and where it may have been written,” notes Seong-Jin Cho. “I’m delighted that, thanks to DG Stage among others, many people from around the world will be able to hear this wonderful piece for the first time during my Mozartwoche recital. I really hope that many others will also discover its charms by listening to my Deutsche Grammophon e-single recording.”
Dr Johannes Honsig-Erlenburg, President of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation adds, “The rediscovery of this new work by Mozart is a real gift, not just for the Foundation but for friends of the Mozartwoche all over the world! We are very pleased to be able to fulfil the mission of the Foundation in such wonderful style, together with Seong-Jin Cho and Deutsche Grammophon, our aim being to enable people of all ages to find out more about Mozart’s music, life and personality.”
Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon, pays tribute to the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation and the dedication of all those involved in taking the 2021 Mozartwoche online at short notice. “The diligent work of our partners and friends means we have the chance to hear an incredibly rare Mozart world premiere,” he observes. “Rolando Villazón and the Mozarteum Foundation deserve our special thanks, and we congratulate Seong-Jin Cho on this once-in a-lifetime performance. In close collaboration with the Mozarteum Foundation, Unitel and many additional media outlets as well as our audio streaming partners, Deutsche Grammophon is proud to connect audiences worldwide and celebrate Mozart’s genius in a genuinely historic moment.”
The Allegro in D K626b/16, preserved on both sides of a single manuscript sheet in Mozart’s hand, probably dates from early 1773, completed towards the end of its seventeen-year-old composer’s third tour of Italy or soon after his return home to Salzburg. The score appears to have passed from the estate of the composer’s youngest son into the collection of Austrian civil servant and amateur musician Aloys Fuchs and then been given away soon after, perhaps by mistake. Owned in the late 1800s by an antiquarian book and art dealer in Vienna, it was brought to auction following his death in 1899. Its existence was noted in the third and subsequent editions of Köchel’s catalogue of the composer’s works, but the work escaped scholarly scrutiny despite having been presented at auction several times between 1900 and 1928.
In 2018 the “unknown” Allegro was offered for sale to the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation on behalf of the family of its owner, a French-Dutch engineer who had bought the manuscript from a dealer in Paris in the late 1920s. The Foundation’s staff and experts from the USA and Germany confirmed that the unattributed piano piece was undeniably by Mozart. A facsimile edition of the Allegro in D, complete with extensive introduction and bibliography, is ready for publication on 27 January 2021.