Interview with Diana Doherty – part 2

The same principle applies, she says, to Mozart’s oboe quartet, a piece she first performed at the age of 16, and has played so often since then that she has lost count.

“Mozart is always challenging,” Doherty says. “It has to appear so easy, but there’s so much to control.”

What sort of person does she think Mozart was?

“I think he probably would have annoyed me,” she reflects. “I get the feeling that apart from being just irritatingly brilliant, he was a bit of a larrikin – the sort of person who things come really easily to, so they don’t think that they need to turn up on time or answer your letters like normal people. I imagine him a bit like that.

“I certainly feel that I can identify with his cheeky, humorous side – like for example this third movement of the quartet – I feel at home with that.”

The quartet, she explains, was probably written for the famous oboist Friedrich Ramm. History suggests that Ramm was a self-assured extrovert, and Mozart, Doherty thinks, probably threw in several deliberately knotty details to provoke him.

“It ends on a high F, softly and elegantly. For the oboe of the time, that was really high. It’s a little challenge to Friedrich Ramm – there’s some suggestion that he was calling his bluff.”

Apart from these gauntlet-throwing touches, says Doherty, the quartet is full of expressive detail.

“The slow movement may have something to do with his mother’s death. It’s short but very sad and emotional. I love Mozart when he writes in minor keys, don’t you? The passion and the drama. Then the last movement is just pure fun, very happy and bouncy.”

© Shirley Apthorp 2011

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