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

4. Articulation

Preparing a modern performance edition and score of the Mozart/Cimador Symphony IV presents challenges, many of which relate to articulation. Cimador's parts are inconsistent in their application of dots and strokes as articulation markings. In many ways, this makes sense, given the nature of the source material. Much ink has been spilt over the correct interpretation of dots and strokes in Mozart's music. As Riggs (1997) notes, "when examining the staccato notation in a Mozart autograph, two adjectives immediately come to mind: ambiguous and inconsistent" (p.239). Brown (1993) expresses a similar sentiment in stating "given the pervasive inconsistency of the articulation marks in Mozart's autographs, those of his contemporaries would certainly have been obliged to rely as much on musical intelligence as upon the apparent forms of the marks" (p. 594). Two schools of thought have emerged regarding dots and strokes in Mozart's music.  The so-called "dualists" argue Mozart intended two distinct articulations. The Gesellschraft für Musikforschung adopted this position and "the consequences can be seen on nearly every page of the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe" (Riggs, 1997, p.232). Others advocate for a single staccato marking, noting, "Mozart could hardly have set great store by the graphic distinction" (Brown, 1993, p.594).

Like the source material, Cimador's Symphony IV is inconsistent in its application of articulation markings. The first inconsistent markings occur in bars three and five of the first movement. In the flute, violins, and viola prima part, Cimador employs a stroke as an articulation marking. In the viola seconda, cello, and bass part a dot is indicated. Did Cimador intend different articulations? It seems unlikely on musical grounds alone. Given the clear distinction in the parts between the dots and strokes, this edition preserves the character of Cimador's musical intention by incorporating the articulation employed in a majority of the parts and applying articulation consistently in all the parts. This solution should satisfy both those inclined to interpret the dots and strokes in the same manner and dualists preferring to distinguish between the two. It is worth noting that, in this passage, Cimador's edition eschews a stroke articulation on the 16th note pick-up to bar three in all parts. This approach differs from the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe, where a stroke articulation appears in all parts (see Figure 1).