1766 – a year in music

Ian Page looks forward to the launch of the second year of MOZART 250 at Wigmore Hall on 19 January.

During the first half of this year, the launch of our ground-breaking MOZART 250 incorporated music by over twenty composers, from Abel to Sacchini, Philidor to Rush, including the first in-depth musical survey of Mozart’s childhood visit to London and the first new production of J.C. Bach’s Adriano in Siria since its premiére 250 years previously. We have been thrilled by the effusive response from audiences and critics alike, and are looking forward to embarking on the second year of the project at Wigmore Hall on 19 January with a retrospective of the year 1766.

In many ways, and for no apparent reason, 1766 seems to have been a less rich musical year than those either side of it, with Haydn, Gluck and J.C. Bach all proving far less prolific than usual, but such an apparent dearth enables us to dig deeper for treasures. Our concert is framed by symphonies by the ten-year-old Mozart, including the delightful ‘Old Lambach’ symphony, and also features a dynamic G minor symphony by Vanhal – one of the earliest and best of the so-called ‘Sturm und Drang’ movement – and the first movement of a symphony by Franz Ignaz Beck, whose extrovert and unpredictable individuality looks forward to Beethoven as much as to Mozart. The vocal element includes a song written for the London Pleasure Gardens by J.C. Bach and the exquisite ‘Et incarnatus est’ from Haydn’s Missa Cellensis in honorem BVM, as well as two charming Mozart concert arias and arias from neglected Italian operas by Guglielmi and Jommelli. The Jommelli is particularly interesting and beautiful – he was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the greatest opera composers of the day – and in April we will be presenting the UK premiére of the opera in question, Il Vologeso.

The singers for this concert are tenor Benjamin Hulett, who has been much praised for his role in our recently released recording of Mozart’s Il re pastore, and – in a change from the original listing – Associate Artist Louise Alder, who has just received glowing reviews for her Covent Garden début in Rossi’s Orfeo.

The one piece of feedback we repeatedly received after last January’s 1765 retrospective was that people were astonished by the sheer range and quality of music being composed in one year, and our survey of 1766 promises to be no less fascinating, eclectic and enjoyable. We do hope you will be able to join us.

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