Clarinet Quintets – W. A. Mozart & C. M. von Weber

W. A. Mozart - Clarinet Quintet in A, K581 'Stadler Quintet'

  • 1. Allegro [09:42]
  • 2. Larghetto [06:30]
  • 3. Menuetto [07:06]
  • 4. Allegretto con variazioni [08:55]

C. M. von WEBER - Clarinet Quintet in B flat major, op. 34

  • 5. Allegro [10:54]
  • 6. Fantasia. Adagio ma non troppo [04:55]
  • 7. Menuetto. Capriccio presto [05:17]
  • 8. Rondo. Allegro giocoso [06:16]

Clarinet Quintets

‘Zum Auge Gottes’

It has been common in the history of recording to combine the quintets for clarinet and strings by Mozart and Weber on a CD. Hardly surprising, as these two works represent the historical establishment of this instrumental combination as a chamber music archetype, used by other concurrent composers in their time and endorsed in successive epochs by such gures as Brahms, Reger, Hindemith, and so down to the most notable of today’s creators. But there are other reasons.

Today’s performers are grateful for and take example from the stimulation shared by these marvellous works: to a powerful mutual commitment between composer and player. In the complex case of Stadler, colleague of the composer in the Masonic lodge Zur Wohltätigkeit, a decisive contribution must be acknowledged (along with the clarinet-maker Theodor Lotz) to the development of the bass-klarinet, known as clarinet di bassetto. He might however also be blamed for the loss of the manuscripts for Mozart’s main works for clarinet such as this Quintet K581 and Concerto K622, obscure circumstances which enliven the enigmatic reality of the final moments of the life of the Salzburg genius, forcing us to interpret versions reconstructed from later editions and incomplete original outlines needing substantial doses of historical information.

Although Mozart lived just six years following the birth of Carl Maria von Weber, the two were remotely related, by a variety of coincidences: the half-brother of Weber’s father Fridolin was the father of Constanze Weber, eventually married to Mozart, and of her sister Aloysia, with whom he fell in love rst. Mozart met the Webers in Mannheim in 1777, but it was at their residence in Vienna, ‘Zum Auge Gottes’ (In the Eyes of God) where he once more encountered Constanze and her mother, a circumstance leading to the renowned marriage. It is most curious that, nally, the remains of Leopold rest in the Mozart tomb, surrounded by various members of the Weber family, but with no other Mozart.

Clarinet Quintets – W. A. Mozart

Anton Stadler died in 1812, just a year after Weber wrote the Concertino and the two Concertos with orchestra, in Munich, for the great clarinetist Heinrich Bärmann. Following that fruitful encounter, Weber began his “Grosses Quintet”, working on it itinerantly and completing it in 1815, exactly 200 years ago.

Clarinet Quintets – C. M. von Weber

Bärmann’s clarinet had more keys and was more elaborate than Stadler’s, allowing for a virtuosity which would have been unimaginable just twenty years before. That does not however turn the work into an empty showpiece. On the contrary, the Quintet’s virtue is that it amalgamates the features of Chamber Music and Concerto, vessel for the entire dramatic charge of romantic German opera, the pathos, the fantasy, the humour, the popular elements and the melodic reach of a composer who – as has never been su ciently emphasised – had a decisive in uence in factors as apparently antagonistic as Wagner’s subsequent development of opera, or Brahms’ composition of all his output for clarinet after hearing the First Concerto in F minor played by Richard Mühlfeld.

José Luis Estellés, prologue to ‘Clarinet Quintets’

Disc Reviews

‘Melómano de Oro’, March 2016.
The reinvention of the clarinet. […] The repertoire is approached with great sensitivity and a deep knowledge of the clarinet by Estellés, who unfolds it with such ease and elegance that brings a great freshness to these quintets.

MELÓMANO / Anahí Quirós, March 2016

View the review