"...auf die Harmonie gesetzt..."
„Vienna, July 20th 1782. I have no small work ahead of me. By Sunday week my opera must be arranged for the ‚harmonie’, otherwise someone will sneak in ahead of me and take the winnings for it. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to arrange such a thing so that it is characteristic for wind instruments but without losing any of its effect.“
„Arranged for the ‚harmonie’“, that is to say for „Harmoniemusik“ or wind octet. From this letter written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to his father we learn that whilst it was no mean feat to arrange an opera for wind ensemble, there was evidently good money to be made that way in the 18th century. Kaiser Joseph II had recently decided that the customary military wind sextet constituting his royal band of musicians should be replaced by eight wind players from the court opera orchestra, a move subsequently copied in many other courts.
This led to the practical problem that whilst a substantial volume of repertoire existed for the traditional wind sextet combination, there was next to nothing for the octet. In response to the sudden demand for music in this instrumentation, numerous new works were composed. Significantly more were arranged from popular existing works, predominantly operas known and loved by audiences, which were taken as templates and reworked into potpourris.
The wind ensemble 'La Scintilla dei Fiati' is composed of members of Orchestra La Scintilla at Zurich Opera. Having devoted themselves for many years to performing the substantial repertoire for this instrumentation on modern instruments, their desire grew stronger to play these works on period instruments, and thereby to discover and to experience completely new aspects of the music.
Working with luminaries such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Thomas Hengelbrock and Giovanni Antonini, which sparked in all musicians a lively enthusiasm for period performance, together with the fact that all players dedicate a significant part of their working lives to chamber music, brought the members of this unique ensemble together.
Through their work, the ensemble aims to revive the extensive, partly neglected, yet wonderful repertoire of a musical form which had such a rich tradition in the courts of Europe in the late 18th century, and in doing so to conjure up the Zeitgeist of the period in the context of our modern world.
Listen to excerpts here:
…sie glauben nicht, wie schwer es ist, so was auf die harmonie zu setzen – dass es den Blasinstrumenten eigen ist und doch dabei nichts von der Wirkung verlorengeht.“ Das schrieb Wolfgang seinem Vater Leopold. Und wie gut er seine Arbeit machte, das zeigt die farbig-alerte und durchaus dramatisch-rhetorische Interpretation des Bläserensembles ‘La Scintilla dei Fiati’, das aus Mitgliedern des ‘Orchestra La Scintilla’ am Opernhaus Zürich besteht.
(erschienen bei Solo Musica SM 244).
"... The musicians fashioned the works with zest and temperament, and achieved in places an unusually transparent sound on their original instruments. Harnoncourt’s vision of a spirited period performance practice was very much in evidence: performed with clear intentions and technical prowess, the music came became direct and full of meaning ...
... the ensemble dramatically intensified the duet ‚Ich gehe, doch rate ich Dir’, launched themselves with fervour into Blonde’s aria ‚Welche Wonne, welche Lust’, and proved how appealing dramatic music can be even outside of the theatre."
Neue Zürcher Zeitung
"...The sound of this ensemble, inspired by Harnoncourt and co., is unique and full of nuance, always powerfully mellow and lyrical."
© LA SCINTILLA DEI FIATI