Mozart by Richard Galliano

Have you ever wondered what might’ve happened if Mozart had been born a Parisian busker rather than an Austrian composer? Neither had I until I heard virtuoso French accordionist Richard Galliano’s Mozart album. Normally I am a purest, and find that any attempt to ‘improve’ Mozart’s music is in fact to vitiate it. However, I have been unexpectedly charmed by Galliano’s Mozart arrangements. Surprising, considering that I wasn’t a big fan of his previous Vivaldi album: I found the accordion too cumbersome an instrument for the sprightly and brilliant Four Seasons.

Rondo alla Turca – the third movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 – is probably one of the most recognisable pieces of classical music in the Western canon, and it has been performed, arranged and rearranged practically to death. Its overuse in no way lessened my utter, undefiled enjoyment at Galliano’s version of it, performed by Galliano with vim and vigour. The accordion lends itself particularly well to the solo part in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. Here, the orchestral accompaniment has been arranged for string quintet, and the resulting texture is similar to that of the Clarinet Quintet. Galliano’s Mozart is the perfect blend of joie de vivre and classical elegance.

Alexandra Mathew is from Readings Carlton.