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Program Notes: Mozart & Gounod - available until
Costa Mesa, California
Friday, 9 April 2021 - 7:00 PM
Presenter: Pacific Symphony
Ensemble: Pacific Symphony
Conductor: Carl St.Clair
For this March 11 Symphony @ 7 program, Music Director Carl St.Clair contrasts two tuneful and light-hearted works—one for strings, the other for winds—composed a century apart by Mozart and Gounod. Together these pieces would make a light-hearted and sunny soundtrack for a summer evening’s outdoor entertainment.

This concert will be available for FREE streaming on our YouTube and Facebook channels from March 11 through April 9.


Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation Virtual Classical Series

Janet Curci Family Foundation


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Serenade No. 6, D Major, K. 239 “Serenata Notturna”
Scored for strings and timpani
Duration: 14 minutes

You may have heard of the more famous Mozart serenade “A Little Night Music” (“Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”), but the “Serenata notturna’ written by the 20-year-old composer is an enchanting early work. Serenades are meant to be light, musical diversions and the “Serenata notturna” beautifully showcases Pacific Symphony’s gifted string virtuosi.

In the year 1776 while the United States was declaring its independence, the young Mozart was busy composing masterpieces such as the charming “Serenata notturna.” It is a three-movement work written for strings divided into two groups and timpani.

The piece opens with a dignified, stately march that alternates with cheerful and lyrical melodies. Timpani add a distinctive martial air to the otherwise sedate orchestration of strings. Listening to the middle movement—a charmingly melodic and danceable Minuetto—it’s easy to imagine elegant, bewigged lords and ladies kicking up their heels in three-quarter time to the music. The final Rondo is a high-spirited country dance, with a scampering melody that is interrupted periodically by emphatically insistent timpani.

Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
Finale from Petite Symphonie for Nine Winds
Scored for flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and 2 French horns
Duration: 5:17

Charles Gounod is perhaps best remembered for his opera “Faust” and his arrangement of “Ave Maria” superimposed over Bach’s C Major Prelude from “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” Although Gounod may not be the first composer who comes to mind when you think of French music, he was extremely influential on his countrymen. Maurice Ravel called him "the true founder of the mélodie in France." And Claude Debussy wrote, "Gounod is essential…the art of Gounod represents a moment in French sensibility. Whether one wants to or not, that kind of thing is not forgotten."

Gounod modeled his “Little Symphony for Winds” after Mozart’s serenades. He wrote the work for his friend Paul Taffanel, the flute professor at the Paris Conservatoire and that instrument gets a starring role. The finale sparkles with brilliant virtuosity. If there were such a thing as champagne for the ears, this lively finale with its delicate and playful melodies, effervescently tossed between flute, oboe and clarinet would most certainly be it!

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