Mozart: Symphony in G minor

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) Symphonie g-moll… Symphony in G minor, 1st and 2nd Version, KV 550, edited by Henrik Wiese
Breitkopf & Härtel (PB 542), 2014. 68pp, €26.90.

The Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, Serie IV, Werkgruppe 11: Sinfonien Band 9, vol. 12 was published in 1957, edited by H. C. Robbins Landon. Editions from the 1950s and 1960s were the result of enthusiasm at discovering MSS that had either been unknown or, in many cases, not fully considered.

The significance of a new No. 40 has changed ideas on the logic of first composing the score without clarinets then later adding them. This is not to say that Mozart started with oboes and clarinets and then removed the clarinets, but Wiese argues that the third version is a return to abandoning the clarinets with minor alterations of flute and of strings in their place. The changes primarily concern with the Andante. Page 26 & 34 has two versions, but otherwise the edition is clear and avoids printing two versions throughout. There are two pairs of oboes notated: the first, in smaller print, is for the first version, below that the second version is in standard print. It seems that the editor assumed the normal difference of 1st and 2nd version rather than giving some status to the third version. The small print of the Prefaces (German and English) means two compressed pages, but the musical text is fine. It saves a lot of cross-checking from editions which come in two versions (e. g. Bärenreiter), but it must be confusing for conductors if they are using different versions.

I like to sample a part or two to give some idea of what they look like. In this case, it wasn’t particularly helpful – I received a Violin I part where only bars 29 & 100 of the Andante have variants. (The oboe and clarinet parts are presumably more complicated.) The publisher is careful to indicate a sensible page-turn in the last movement with a dotted line across the page and a pair of scissors. Squashing 14 lines into a page is a bit tight if the players like thorough pencil marks, but there are advantages in avoiding page-turns. This is a valuable improvement.

Clifford Bartlett