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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

While ol’ Robbo is often on about clasickal musick here, he readily confesses that, although he has a good ear and vast experience, he has comparatively little edumacation in theory and composition.

So it was with delight that he heard a little expose t’other day from teh new afternoon host at teh local classical station.   Teh former host, now retired, rarely went beyond platitudes such as, “Ah, Mr. Pachelbel and his Canon…Isn’t that relaxing?”  But this new fellah seems to know what he’s talking about.

To whit, he introduced teh finale to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G-minor with a brief discourse on the Mannheim School, pointing out that said movement was a wonderful example of an orchestral technique that has become known as the “Mannheim Rocket”.  Per Wiki:

Composers of the Mannheim school introduced a number of novel ideas into the orchestral music of their day: sudden crescendos – the Mannheim Crescendo (a crescendo developed via the whole orchestra) – and diminuendos; crescendos with piano releases; the Mannheim Rocket (a swiftly ascending passage typically having a rising arpeggiated melodic line together with a crescendo); the Mannheim Roller (an extended crescendo passage typically having a rising melodic line over an ostinato bass line); the Mannheim Sigh (a mannered treatment of the Baroque practice of putting more weight on the first of two notes in descending pairs of slurred notes);[citation needed] the Mannheim Birds(imitation of birds chirping in solo passages); the Mannheim Climax (a high-energy section of music where all instruments drop out except for the strings, usually preceded by aMannheim Crescendo); and the Grand Pause where the playing stops for a moment, resulting in total silence, only to restart vigorously. The Mannheim Rocket can be a rapidly ascending broken chord from the lowest range of the bass line to the very top of the soprano line. Its influence can be found at the beginning of the 4th movement of Mozart’sSymphony No. 40 as well as the very start of Beethoven‘s Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2, No. 1.

I cannot recall whether I had somewhere read or heard of this innovation and forgot about it, or whether I had never before known it.   All I can say is that, although I have heard the 40th many times, when it was spun here after this introduction (in a performance by the London Classickal Players under Roger Norrington), I confess that I heard it in a way I’d never done before.

Yes, in terms of musick, I am an idiot not-even-so-much savant.  But I at least can understand that there are heights, even if I can’t live on ’em.

Anyhoo, here is a pretty good performance.   Feel free to analyze the Mannheim effect yourselves:


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November 2013