Organist Daniel Moult is performing a rare all-Mozart programme with members of the Arcangelo ensemble this December, on a pipe organ that had to be brought in specially. We spoke to him about the repertoire he’s chosen and the concert’s unusual logistical difficulties.
How did you choose which Mozart works to perform?
Mozart called the organ the ‘king of instruments’ but he actually left very little original music for it. So we have to go to other places, like mechanical clock organs, which were very popular at the time, and transcribe those. The backbone of my programme was the pieces that Mozart wrote as a commission for these mechanical organ clocks, which were a bit like barrel organs. The other side of my programming is the Epistle Sonatas – sometimes called the Church Sonatas. They were written when Mozart was organist at the cathedral in Salzburg. They’re for string trio and organ and I wanted to get people in by having some string trios there with organ and then also introducing them to repertoire which I think is very accessible. It’s the first time there’s been an organ event in Kings Place so that’s quite exciting.
Has it been hard getting the pipe organ imported?
Yes, a great hassle. The Mozart pieces only work with two manuals and a pedal board and most portable pipe organs are just one keyboard and three stops, so it never works outside of a harpsichord or equivalent. This is a proper battleship. It’s having to be partially dismantled and transported down from Leicestershire and put up in great haste in the hall that morning so it’s been a bit of a logistical issue.
Kings Place is quite an intimate venue – might the organ be overpowering?
The instrument itself is quite a gentle sound. It’s not particularly strident, so the actual volume will still be relatively chamber-like. And I mean in terms of scale, it’s probably only going to take up the space of, say, three grand pianos, so it’s not huge.
What do you think the audience are going to get out of this concert?
Not all the organ stuff is typical Mozart – it’s not all sweet tunes and pretty minuets, there’s a dark side to Mozart which I think you hear in some of the late symphonies and maybe some of the late quartets. But I think concert-goers perhaps don’t always address that, so I’m hoping it’s going to be a slightly different experience for them.
Are you looking forward to working with members of Arcangelo?
The director of Arcangelo [founder and conductor Jonathan Cohen] was a school friend of mine, so after a gap of about 20 years we’re back together. So it’ll be really nice to be back working with him again and I hope it might be the start of many more [collaborations]. They’re an ace group.
Do you enjoy presenting organ works in a new setting?
Yes, totally, because I think the organ’s got an image problem. There’s been too much second-rate music done in unattractive, cold places, so I take every opportunity I can to take repertoire to different places and to present it in a new way. I think that’s important for classical music generally, but I think it’s crucial for the organ.
Tickets for ‘Mozart and the Organ’ start from £13.50 and can be bought from kingsplace.co.uk
Interview by Rachel Tregenza