Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Nationality: Austrian
Born: January 27, 1756, Salzburg Died: December 5, 1791, Vienna (age 35)

Oboe Quartet in F major, K. 370 (368b) (for oboe, violin, viola and cello)

(for oboe, violin, viola and cello)
6:55 I. Allegro
3:30 II. Adagio
4:41 III. Rondeau. Allegro
Duration: 15 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 1781 (age 24-25)
Published: 1802, Bonn: N. Simrock
9 recordings, 19 videos
autoopen autoplay
7:13
Ray Still, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell
I. Allegro
3:50
Ray Still, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell
II. Adagio
4:49
Ray Still, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Lynn Harrell
III. Rondeau. Allegro
13:51
Unknown ensemble (complete)
7:17
Unknown ensemble
I. Allegro
5:00
Unknown ensemble
II. Adagio
5:06
Unknown ensemble
III. Rondeau. Allegro
4:41
Lardrot, et. al.
I. Allegro
3:15
Lardrot, et. al.
II. Adagio
4:42
Lardrot, et. al.
III. Rondeau. Allegro
13:42
Kubin Quartet, Foltýn
13:55
Indermühle, et. al.
6:48
Goosens and Léner Quartett
I. Allegro
3:16
Goosens and Léner Quartett
II. Adagio
4:33
Goosens and Léner Quartett
III. Rondeau. Allegro
7:04
Boston Symphony Chamber Players
I. Allegro
2:56
Boston Symphony Chamber Players
II. Adagio
4:33
Boston Symphony Chamber Players
III. Rondeau. Allegro
6:43
American Baroque (animated)
I. Allegro
From Kai Christiansen

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791

Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 370, 1781

Mozart's quartet for oboe, violin, viola and cello is one of several he wrote for strings and featured instrumentalist including the famous works for clarinet and horn among others. Before his move to Vienna and the "mature" chamber works, Mozart was still employed by Salzburg's Archbishop Colloredo, from whom he managed to secure a leave to travel to Munich for an opera commission by Elector Carl Theodor. There, Mozart re-encountered his friend, the brilliant and celebrated oboist Friedrich Ramm for whom he ultimately composed the quartet in the early months of 1781. The quartet is certainly a vehicle for Ramm's virtuosity as well as Mozart's enduring ability to write idiomatically for a given instrument's essential personality.

The quartet comprises three movements in a traditional fast – slow – fast pattern after the manner of a sonata or concerto rather than the four-movement design of string quartet or symphony. The first movement is a trim sonata that is essentially monothematic, unusual for Mozart. The oboe introduces a lilting, ornamented theme with active imitative textures in the top strings. After some transitional materials, the second key-area shifts the main theme to the violin with oboe countermelodies, a contrast of key and scoring that retains the original theme. As Mozart often did, he begins the exposition with fresh material, in this case little floating fugue with a short subject in long notes with close imitations. The recapitulation adds new contrapuntal textures to the opening material and the 4-note head motive from the little fugue cleverly joins the mix. As throughout the quartet, the cello part tends to outline the essential base line with stock figures rather than joining in full four-part textures typical of Mozart's later quartets.

The central slow movement Adagio is brief but intense. It resumes the slower half-note pace of the little fugue for a deliberate, somber dramatic. The mood is by turns mournful, pleading and dark, an ideal lyrical showcase for the plaintive timbre of the oboe.

Mozart follows ominous shadow with beneficent light in a buoyant Rondo allegro whose joyous lilt recalls the first movement but with the greater freedom of a sectional dance form with lively episodes joined by a repeating refrain. The melody and 6/8 bounce create the effect of a French or English country dance with the oboe almost tending towards a pipe or flute. Towards the end, there occurs a famous polyrhythmic section of thirteen bars where the oboe plays in common time (4/4) against the strings in 6/8 with a oddly shimmering effect of four beats against three. One is tempted to speculate that Mozart was perhaps hinting at a Turkish sound with its idiomatic melismas often heard on a double-reed instrument similar to the oboe.

© Kai Christiansen Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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