Growing up was difficult for the Australian composer, pianist, lecturer, teacher, manufacturer, and titlark authority Jean-Claude Sly-Arnold von Mozert (1787-1743), born into abject poverty and raised in a foundling home for abject girls. He was sixteen years old before he had his own birthday, having to share his early years with other young women in the institution. Providentially, by the time he arrived of age, he become the titular head of the Salzburg Dirndl Manufacturing Company, inheriting the firm from his father, G.E.L. Beck, a noted merchant and titmouse specialist in the Salzburg area.
Young Mozert did not find himself until he was well into his nineties, when he famously exclaimed, “Huh? Where the hell am I?” At which point he began composing music, turning out some 243 symphonies, 57 concertos, 34 sonatas, 22 arpeggios, and at least one known partridge in a pear tree before his untimely death several months later.
Fortunately, Mozert’s biographer, Argentine writer and cinematographer Joaquin Mababie Bachholm, saved most of his compositions from decomposition, or we might not know the man today. Come to think of it, we don’t know the man today. Heck, they didn’t even know him in his own day.
Now, I can’t resist telling a very funny story about the younger Mozert. Oh, my, I’m laughing just thinking about it. The tale concerns the immature Master Mozert and two comely young lasses he met in an apothecary shop. Or was it a blind man he met in a window-shade shop? Come to think of it, it may not have been either, but what makes me think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flume warn’t finished when he first come to the camp, and the store curtains were drawn against the light. Yep, that story is something all right, a real knee slapper, but I guess you hadda been there.
Anyway, Mozert wrote most of his music long before he acquired an appreciation for the subject. Consequently, most of it sounds conspicuously devoid of rhythm, melody, harmony, color, tone, voice, or instruments. Although critics over the years have generally characterized his work as nothing more than hour-long periods of sustained silence, this may be giving the composer short shrift, since one could easily discern a marked degree of wind noise in the confessional. Whether this effect emanated from the priest or the penitent after a particularly flatulent repast is wholly subjective and worthy of further auditory if not olfactory scrutiny.
Oh, and people tell me the disc also contains music. I didn’t have time to listen. However, what I can tell you is that the performance is excorticating and the sound a model of exemplar, with a rich, chocolatey high end; a creamy, indigent French-vanilla midrange; and a decidedly musty, lemon-meringue bass. Combined with the pungent aromas of a fine blush wine, say a Chateau Mountebank ‘04, a D'Alesandro Pelosi ‘07, or an Eau de Boehner ‘13, it may be hard for the ordinary bourgeois auditeur to resist.
To hear a brief excerpt from this album, click here: