Volume 15, June 2022
Different Strokes: Giambattista Cimador's chamber music arrangement of Mozart's Haffner (no. 35) and Paris (no. 31) Symphonies

by Mark Elliot Bergman

2. Background

Cimador's six arrangements of Mozart's symphonies include some of the latter's most recognizable and enduring compositions such as K. 297/300a (no. 31 "Paris"), K.385 (no. 35, "Haffner"), K. 425 (no. 36 "Linz"), K. 504 (no. 38, "Prague"), and K. 550 (no. 40, "Great G minor symphony"). The British publisher Monzani (originally in collaboration with Cimador) published the performance parts between 1800 and 1827 without a score. The oldest parts in the British Library's collection are dated "1805" with a question mark attached to the date. Lister (2016) suggests a slightly earlier date for the publication, noting "Mozani and Cimador's edition…first appeared as early as 1800, when their partnership first began" (p.4). In any case, these works emerged at the dawn of the 19th century. The inspiration for this project, Lister implies, was likely the success of J. Salomon's 1798 quintet arrangements of Haydn's symphonies.

The fourth symphony in Cimador's set (entitled "Symphony IV") is both curious and captivating. Here, he combines four movements from two different Mozart symphonies, both in the key of D major. The odd-numbered movements are derived from K.385 (no. 35, "Haffner"), and the even numbered-movements are derived from K. 297/300a (no. 31 "Paris"). One can only speculate about Cimador's motivation for melding the two compositions. Certainly, they are stylistically similar and written just four years apart (1782 and 1778, respectively). Cimador may have been as captivated by the Paris symphony as Parisian audiences. In particular, the surprisingly sparse piano opening of the finale was of keen interest at the premiere.  In Mozart's words,

Parisian audiences liked the Andante, too, but most of all the final Allegro because, having observed that here (in Paris) all final as well as first allegros begin with all the instruments playing together and generally unisono, I begin mine with the two violins only, piano for the first eight bars – followed instantly by a forte; the audience, as I expected, said "Shh!" at the soft beginning, and then, as soon as they heard the forte that followed, immediately began to clap their hands (Zaslaw, 1989, p.310).

Service (2014) adds further praise for the Paris Symphony's finale in describing it as "a miniature masterpiece because of how it layers some brilliantly worked counterpoint underneath the surface of its public spectacle" (para. 9). The Paris symphony, however, contains just three movements, while Cimador's other symphonic arrangements include four movements. By the 19th century, when Cimador published this set, the four-movement symphony was de rigueur. Burkholder, Grout, and Palisca (2020) note "Haydn's consistent use of this format (the four-movement symphony) helped to make it the standard for later composers" (p. 523). Both the Haffner and Paris symphonies are in the key of D major. Combining the second and third movements of the Paris Symphony with two movements of the Haffner Symphony allowed Cimador to present the Paris Symphony finale as part of a four-movement work in the same key.

In his edition, one minor change Cimador makes exaggerates the drama upon which Mozart commented in the Paris Symphony's finale. In the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe critical edition, the second violin part stays forte until the third beat of the bar. However, in Cimador's edition, the second violin part immediately drops to piano at the beginning of the bar, setting up a more dramatic contrast. Cimador may have been enamored by the "Shh!" effect the piano passage had on audiences (as described by Mozart). If he wanted to present the Paris Symphony finale in a four-movement context, the melding of the Haffner Symphony and Paris Symphony (both in D major) makes sense.