Archive for March, 2008

Mozart, Clarinet Quintet in A, K. 581, “Stadler”

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791

Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581, “Stadler”, 1789

Wolfgang Amadeus MozartMozart wrote a number of chamber works for strings and a wind instrument, including the flute, oboe, horn and clarinet. In each case, he managed to showcase the idiomatic character of the featured guest while setting it naturally within a chamber context for a balanced, blended ensemble. Often inspired to write for a particular musician, Mozart twice wrote a chamber work featuring the clarinet for his friend Anton Stadler: first, the Kegelstatt trio and three years later, in 1789, the exquisite Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581, which Mozart himself subtitled “Stadler’s Quintet.” In a single work, Mozart combines his gifts for three genres in which he was supreme: (more…)

Beethoven, String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827

String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135, 1826

Ludwig van BeethovenThe String Quartet in F Major, Op. 135 is Beethoven’s last string quartet as well as his last complete opus in any genre. He finished it in October of 1826, not many months before taking his last breath in March of 1827. It is the final work of the greatest cycle of string quartets in history that began with six worthy successors to Haydn and Mozart (Op. 18), exploded with the three magnificent quartets for Count Razumovsky (Op. 59), effused into the dazzling richness of Op. 74 (“Harp”), smoldered with the cryptic severity of Op. 95 (“Serioso), blossomed into transcendent expansion with the first four late quartets and broached the utterly modern with the Grosse Fugue. As he began writing the Op. 135 quartet, Beethoven knew it would be his last: he was very conscious of the moment in his life if not the moment in the history of the world. How did Beethoven conclude this epic series? (more…)