Mozart 225: The New Complete Edition
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(Decca and Deutsche Grammophon)
One of the best-selling albums of 2016 arrived in the final weeks of the year and was from an artist who died more than two centuries ago.
Labels Decca and Deutsche Grammophon joined forces to compile a box set – released last month to commemorate the 225th anniversary of Mozart’s death (December 5, 1791) – jam-packed with 200 CDs that contains every note composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart during his 35 years of life.
More than 6,250 copies of the box set were sold in the first five weeks, with each physical album counted as one sale. Talk about your embarrassment of riches. Chronologically, the compilation starts with Mozart’s first-known compositions, two fragmentary Andantes in C major for harpsichord lasting 17 seconds and 14 seconds, respectively, written in 1761 when he was 5 years old.
It ends with his Requiem, left unfinished at his death in 1791. In between are not only all 27 piano concertos, 41 symphonies, and every opera, song and sonata, but many alternate versions, fragments, arrangements of music by Handel and Bach and even works whose authorship is in dispute.
Of particular historical interest is the world premiere recording of a recently discovered “lost song” that Mozart apparently composed in collaboration with Antonio Salieri. Written in 1785, Mozart’s contribution to Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia (For the recovered health of Ophelia) consists of just two stanzas lasting under a minute-and-a-half.
There is so much material here it would take weeks or months to survey thoroughly. The suggested price tag of Dh1,700 means a significant financial commitment, but for serious Mozart lovers, this is a treasure trove.
* Mike Silverman / AP