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Millefiori Piano Trio: Ann Marie Bingham, clarinet, Kristen Alves, violin, Ian Jessee, viola
Elizabeth Reed Smith, violin
Sőlen Dikener, cello
Henning Vauth, piano
Mozart wrote his Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in A Major in 1789 for his friend and fellow Freemason, clarinetist Anton Stadler. Stadler played second clarinet with his brother Johan on first clarinet in the imperial wind orchestra in Vienna, and he also played basset horn, a clarinet-like instrument, but with a wider range than the clarinet, that was in vogue at the time. Perhaps because of his experience on the lower parts, he favored, and specialized in, the low register of the clarinet, so much so that he collaborated with a clarinet maker to make an extension for his clarinets that allowed him to play even lower pitches. The extended range instrument was called the basset clarinet, and was the instrument for which Mozart wrote his clarinet quintet.
Stadler was known for his beautiful tone quality; a Viennese critic wrote, "I did not know it was possible to achieve what you have done with your instrument, making it sound so remarkably like the human voice! The sound of your instrument is so gentle and lovely, it must be irresistible to any being in possession of a human heart." Unfortunately while on a several-year concert tour after Mozart's death in 1791, Stadler managed to lose the autograph score of the quintet, and so modern performers play from the revised version published in 1802, with the lowest notes omitted, as they could only be played with Stadler's invention.
The quintet, written around the same time as Mozart's opera Così fan Tutte, has a vocal, lyrical, sometimes operatic quality, interspersed with virtuosic passages for the clarinet. The first movement begins serenely; in the development all five players toss around a run in 16th notes. The Larghetto features the clarinet singing over muted strings. The Minuetto alternates with not one but two trios, and the final movement is a set of variations based on an almost childlike theme, with each instrument having a chance to shine.
Mozart spent his last decade of life largely independent of patronage, and often in precarious financial straits. In 1785 the publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister commissioned him to write a set of three piano quartets. The first, in G minor, was completed October 16th; on November 20th Mozart wrote to Hoffmeister urgently requesting money. After the first performance, which was badly received (probably because of the poor quality of the performers), Hoffmeister wrote Mozart, "Write more popularly, or I can neither print nor pay for any more of your piano quartets." Eventually Hoffmeister allowed Mozart to keep the advance he had received for the whole commission without writing any more piano quartets. But the next year Mozart wrote the Piano Quartet No.2 in E♭ Major; it was published by Artaria in 1787, and was one of his first compositions to be published in England, in the same year.
The key of E♭ was one of Mozart's favorites, and is often associated with warm, expressive music. Works in E♭ includes the Sinfonia Concertante, Symphony No. 39, and Piano Concerto No 22. Quartets for piano and strings before Mozart tended to have a prominent piano part merely accompanied by the strings, but Mozart gave each instrument prominence and created a true chamber music texture. This work is structured in typical fashion, with a first movement in sonata form, an expressive slow movement, and a jovial rondo
First Presbyterian Church, Huntington, WV
recitals, clarinet, quintets, violin, viola, cello
Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | Music | Music Performance
Bingham, Ann, "Marshall University Music Department Presents a Music Alive Faculty & Guest Artist Collaboration Series, "A Tour Around the World", SALZBURG" (2013). All Performances. 251.