Program 160
"Swingling Mozart"

MUSIC: Mozart: opening of Symphony No. 40, Third Movement performed by The Swingle Singers [Virgin Classics50999 966956 2 3, CD 1, track 4] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Believe it or not, this is the opening of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Well, not exactly. The tunes and harmonies are certainly Mozart’s, but it’s a bit hard to believe that it’s from a symphony, since there is no symphonic orchestra involved. Instead you have eight singers — two each of sopranos, altos, tenors and bass baritones — covering between them the whole of the vocal and “instrumental” range. These are The Swingle Singers, and I’m going to devote the next hour to their wordless arrangements of Mozart, including the entire Symphony No. 40.

MUSIC: ends

I’ll tell you the interesting history of The Swingle Singers in a few minutes, but first let’s listen to their unique interpretatiion of the “Alla Turca” finale from Mozart’s Piano Sonata Number 11 in A Major on a Virgin Classics CD, followed immediately by the original Mozart composition as performed by German pianist Lars Vogt on an EMI Classics compact disc.

MUSIC: Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 11, Third Movement: “Alla Turca” performed by The Swingle Singers [Virgin Classics50999 966956 2 3, CD 1, track 17] [2:08]

MUSIC: Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 11, Third Movement: “Alla Turca” performed by Lars Vogt [EMI 0946 3 36080 2 3, track 6] [3:02]

The finale of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major, known as the “Turkish March.” First you heard it performed with no piano whatsoever by the Swingle Singers on a Virgin Classics release, then the original Mozart composition as performed by pianist Lars Vogt on an EMI Classics compact disc.

You are listening to “Swingling Mozart” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Although thought of today as an English vocal group, The Swingle Singers was actually founded by an American from Mobile, Alabama, Ward Swingle, in Paris, France, in 1962. From the start it consisted of eight voices. The lead soprano of the original group was Christiane Legrand, the sister of composer Michel Legrand.

Ward Swingle had been a founding member of the famed French vocal group Les Double Six. They did background vocals for singers such as Charles Aznavour and Edith Piaf. They also did some jazz vocals for Michel Legrand, but when he left for Hollywood to do film scores, they were left with less work to do. So Swingle cast about for something interesting to do and fell on Bach’s Well-Tempered Klavier, which led to their hit album, “Bach’s Greatest Hits,” for which the group won two Grammy Awards in 1963 for best choral performance and best new artist. The group won a total of five Grammy Awards for their early releases.

The Swingle Singers were based in France from 1962 until 1973, when the group disbanded and Ward Swingle moved to London. They have remained in London ever since but have consisted of different singers at different times. The current group consists of five singers from the United Kingdom and one each from the United States, Canada, and Germany. Their most recent CD was released in 2009.

The one American is not Ward Swingle, who is in his eighties now as we record this program, having been born in 1927. Swingle returned to live in the U.S. in 1984 and then, ten years later, moved with his wife back to France, where he continues his work in arranging, composing and guest conducting.

With this background in mind, let’s turn now to the longest performance you have ever heard of Mozart’s Symphony Number 40. The reason for this length is that you will hear every movement twice: first as interpreted by the Swingle Singers, then as played by the Tafelmusik Orchestra conducted by Bruno Weil from an Analekta compact disc recording.

MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, First Movement performed by The Swingle Singers [Virgin Classics50999 966956 2 3, CD 1, track 2] [4:00]

MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, First Movement performed by the Tafelmusik Orchestra conducted by Bruno Weil [Analekta AN 2 9834, track 1] [7:09]
MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, Second Movement performed by The Swingle Singers [Virgin Classics50999 966956 2 3, CD 1, track 3] [2:54]

MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, Second Movement performed by the Tafelmusik Orchestra conducted by Bruno Weil [Analekta AN 2 9834, track 2] [10:12]

MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, Third Movement performed by The Swingle Singers [Virgin Classics50999 966956 2 3, CD 1, track 4] [1:50]

MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, Third Movement performed by the Tafelmusik Orchestra conducted by Bruno Weil [Analekta AN 2 9834, track 3] [3:35]

MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, Fourth Movement performed by The Swingle Singers [Virgin Classics50999 966956 2 3, CD 1, track 5] [1:57]

MUSIC: Mozart: Symphony No. 40, Fourth Movement performed by the Tafelmusik Orchestra conducted by Bruno Weil [Analekta AN 2 9834, track 4] [9:20]

Mozart’s Symphony Number 40. You heard all four movements played twice: first in abreviated versions as sung by the Swingle Singers from a Virgin Classics recording, then in the original Mozart score as performed by the Tafelmusik Orchestra conducted by Bruno Weil on an Analekta compact disc.

You’ve been listening to “Swingling Mozart” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide Fred Flaxman.
We have time for one more selection by the Swingle Singers. It’s the Andante from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21.

MUSIC: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21: Andante performed by The Swingle Singers [Virgin Classics50999 966956 2 3, CD 1, track 14] [3:56]

The Swingle Singers version of the “Andante” from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21.

And that concludes our “Swingling Mozart” hour of Compact Discoveries. I hope you enjoyed the music. This is Fred Flaxman reminding you to check out the Compact Discoveries website at www.compactdiscoveries.com.

ANNOUNCER [Steve Jencks]: gives 20-seconds of underwriting credits
Program Ends at 58:00
 
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