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5 note ratingReview of Multimedia Mozart




o pianist's or musician's knowledge and training can be said to be complete without a solid knowledge and appreciation for music written for instruments other than his own. Microsoft Multimedia Mozart -The Dissonant Quartet is a superb example of that principle in action. Even though it analyzes a string quartet, it is so well done that every aspiring musician should experience it. This CD-ROM is so good that the fact that is it has been packaged with 9 other excellent CD-ROM's in a value pack for about $25, tax included, makes it an absolute steal!



The Microsoft Mozart CD-ROM not only delivers accurate detailed analysis about the String Quartet in C major- K. 465, nicknamed the Dissonant Quartet, but goes further, with a discussion of the instruments of a string quartet, Mozart's world, and an excellent bibliography of books about Mozart.

The first chapter of Multimedia Mozart -The Dissonant Quartet, A Word from the Author, allows you to learn about the author, Robert Winter. You can even click on the Play button and hear the author speak. The author's enthusiasm for Mozart and his world comes through in this introduction. Pocket Audio Guide takes each movement of the string quartet and gives a brief analysis of the form of the movement. For example, Movement I. Sonata Form has these sections:

Primary Area
Secondary Area
Closing Area
Exposition repeat
Primary Area
Secondary Area
Closing Area

You can click on any of these areas and can hear exclusively the music for that particular section of the movement of the quartet. This is a wonderful way to focus quickly on the specific spots of the quartet that you might want to listen to and to learn the its structure.

In The Instruments, you'll learn about the instruments of a string quartet. Just click to learn about the anatomy of a string instrument, the bow, and explore a most enlightening section called "From Home to Concert Hall". We learned a lot about the construction and history of the instruments in a string quartet. Included were pictures of the instruments showing them from different angles as well as in cross section. The analysis of the instruments also shows how the instruments evolved as changes and improvements happened over the course of time and as the technology for the construction of the instruments improved.

One of the best chapters is Mozart's World. This section has the following topics: Child of the Enlightenment, The Prodigy, On the Road, Prisoner in Salzburg, Escape to Vienna, Public Success, Music in the Homes, Papa Haydn, a Quartet Party. You can either read these sections or click to have the writer engagingly narrate them. The sections include wonderful illustrations not only of the composer and his family, but also of the architecture of the day. After spending some time on this insightful chapter one comes away with a deeper understanding and appreciation not only of the world of Mozart, but of Mozart himself.

Quartet Listening is divided into the following topics:

A Rationale
Democratic Impulses
Tension and Resolution
Rhythmic Play
Anatomy of a Quartet
First Movement
Second Movement
Third Movement
Fourth Movement
Mozart at Work

Each of these topics is treated with tender loving care and, after reading and listening to the sections of music found in each topic, one can further understand and appreciate the genius of Mozart. Democratic Impulses, for example provides an excellent discussion of the interplay between the four instruments.

A Close Reading gives an almost measure by measure analysis of each movement of this string quartet. Again, one can click on the specific parts, or listen to the quartet while reading in even greater detail about each movement of this string quartet. You are presented with a horizontal chart which describes in detail what is happening in the music. This section deals with the harmonic analysis of the movements of the quartet, as well as details of the form of each movement.

Mozart Bibliography contains an excellent listing of books written about Mozart, both the man and his music. This chapter contained a wealth of information for those interested in doing some more reading about this great master of music The author also lets the user know if certain books are readily available for purchase.

After reading and listening, the CD-ROM puts it all together in a fun game, the Mozart Game. You can choose which character you want to be, Leopold, Wolfgang, Constanze, etc., and can also choose to focus on listening games about the quartet and games about the life and times of Mozart. Not only were the games fun, but the comments after we selected our answer were terrific. This was a lot of fun.

Multimedia Mozart -The Dissonant Quartet is a wonderful piece of music appreciation software, with something to interest every classical music lover, irrespective of their own musical training. The wealth of knowledge provided about Mozart, the man, and Mozart the musician, as well as the knowledge about string instruments is terrific. Since most pianists either accompany string players or get involved in chamber music themselves with piano trios, quartets, etc., reaping all this information is invaluable. It can only serve to further enhance and improve one's playing and appreciation of Mozart and his music. We think you'll agree that your $2.50 for the Mozart CD-ROM was money was well-spent.

Nancy Ostromencki and John Zeigler

Microsoft Multimedia Mozart - The Dissonant Quartet. Microsoft Corporation.  Sirius Publishing. Available as part of 5 Foot 10 Pack Volume 3 (DOS/Win3.1) - from CD-ROM Access for $18.95
Page created: 9/3/97
Last updated: 01/30/15
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