Mozert: Concierto de la Bowerie (CD-R review)

Billy Halop, piccolo; Leo Gorcey, timpani; Huntz Hall, triangle; Isadore "Friz" Freleng, East Side Philharmonic Orchestra. HiBrow Records ICU-007.

Then nine-year-old Wolfsbane Amadayold Mozert (1758-1892) wrote his Sinfonia de la Bowerie in 1725 when he was only four years old. But in one of the classic stories of classical music, he left the manuscript in the breast pocket of his best plaid waistcoat when his mother ran it through the wash. "Wolfie," she famously remarked, "why do always leave things in your pockets!" And, thus, we have the Concierto de la Bowerie, written in 1743 but never performed in young Mozert's lifetime nor in our own.

In response to a dwindling public interest, Spike Jones and his City Slickers took up the baton, and several instruments, in 1943 to lead a revival of this essential share of nearly washed-up writing. Scored for two trombones and a pennywhistle, the Concierto found a near-perfect realization from Maestro Jones, Concertmaster Maestoso Maestricht, and the gang of Slickers on a never-released and long-forgotten LP, the musicians playing the three-minute opus uncut, without the usual repeats in the second-movement Allegro, the fourth-movement Allegorio, or the seventh-movement Allergico. The result is a perfectly charming example of the work of early Dutch settlers in the New York area.

As to the music of the Concierto, it stinks. If it weren't for the fact that conductor Freleng misses every beat, the players botch every note, and the audio engineers appear to have recorded the orchestra in the men's room of the East Side Masonic Lodge, the whole thing would have been a disaster. Fortunately, the awfulness of the performance complements the quality of the music, which is suspect from beginning to end.

Scholars believe that Mozert wrote about 8,542 compositions, from brief harmonica solos for his pals to full orchestral oratorios for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (an organization founded in 372 A.D. by the Roman plutocrat Glennus Becktus). But there is no record that W.A. ever sold a sheet of music in his life. Instead, young Mozert, the son of a prosperous pretzel maker, and his wife, Mitzi, the son of a wealthy pizza grinder, lived comfortably off their parents' dough their entire lives.

Incidentally, scholars have long debated whether W.A. Mozert was in any way related to his more celebrated namesake, Carlo Benitto Leonardi von Heineken Mozert (1758-1723), but so far as can be established, there is no familial tie (nor so much as a cravat). Although the two men shared the same Hamburg condo for decades and married the same woman, they apparently never met. Even W.A.'s own blood son was only related to him by marriage (on his mother's side).

One final note: For those listeners who prefer to hear the Concierto played by a small ensemble on period instruments, the company also make it available from the Guggenheim Grammar School Band and Bugle Corps de Ballet on their companion label, LoBrow Records ICU2-008.

JJP

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

Contact Information

Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa