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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000977.txt from 2001/02

From: MVinquist@-----.com
Subj: [kl] Mozart Quintet Mvt. 4
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 13:55:36 -0500

Dan Leeson's wonderful posting on the 3rd movement of K. 581 inspired me to
ask the board's opinion on some things I've been thinking about in the 4th
movement.

Theme: The first 8 bar section consists of an elegant 2 bar statement and an
elegant 2 bar response, followed by a second counter-statement and response.
The second 4 bars constitute a response and balance to the first 8 bars.

The first 4 bars of second section are a "wild" statement and response. The
1st violin flies off on a descant, eyes flashing, hair flying, and the viola
repeats it canonically. For the second 4 bars, the 1st violin eases
chromatically back into "elegant" mode, repeating the counter-statement and
response of the first section.

These patterns -- 2 bar statement, 2 bar response; 2 bar counter-statement
and response; 2 bar wild statement and response; and elegant 2 bar
counter-statement and response -- continue through the variations.

Variation 1: The clarinet weaves a lacy pattern over the theme played by the
strings. It incorporates the wildness in the opening of the second section
by making the giant leaps (clarion F, chalumeau low G, clarion high B),
making the only trill in the variation and repeating the first violin's
chromatic transition to the second 4 bars. Note that the theme disappears in
the strings for the 4 wild bars, leaving the music even more disconnected
from its courtly elegance. I don't think this is nearly as much of a
clarinet solo as most people play it. The strings have the theme -- the
clarinet has the decoration -- not the other way around.

Variation 2: The theme has disappeared. It's in your ear rather than in the
parts. However, in the second half of the first section, the clarinet has an
altered version of the theme, containing all the notes. Thus, it's really is
a clarinet solo. This is accentuated because the cello drops out when the
clarinet line begins to move, throwing it into relief. The second section
begins with the wild rising figures, this time completely unmelodic. When
the clarinet plays in the second half, the cello also plays, bringing the
clarinet back into the ensemble texture. The contrast this time is not
melody and accompaniment, but wildness and elegance.

Variation 3: The theme is only implicit, and this time in a minor key. The
viola solo is only distantly related to the theme, with occasional eighth
note pairs in the string parts giving a hint of the theme pattern. The
clarinet seems to me to need to stay deep in the background, with a covered
tone, lightly sketching in the harmony -- no more audible than the 1st
violin's light wash of color in the second 4 bars of the first section. In
the opening of the second section, the 1st violin does a faded version of the
wild music, with an extended chromatic run followed by a descending chromatic
run, like a tear running down your cheek.

Variation 4: The theme returns, implicitly in the first half, explicitly in
the second half, while the clarinet and 1st violin trade decorative tracery
over it. Once again, I think the clarinet and 1st violin usually play this
too loud and soloistically. The low strings are the solo. You're -- not the
accompaniment, but the icing on the cake. In the second section, the
clarinet recalls the leaps of variation 1, while the 1st violin chatters
wildly, with a return to the theme with energetic decorations in the final
part.

Transition: Expends the energy of variation 4 and prepares the ground for
what follows:

Variation 5: This is not labeled a variation, but it clearly is. If you
listen while thinking of the theme, everything fits perfectly. In the first
4 bars, the 1st violin decorates and develops the theme. In the second 4
bars, the clarinet does the same, bringing in and transforming the chromatic
figures from variation 3. In the second section, the wildness is magnified
to gigantic size in the clarinet's 32nd note rips, with a transition back to
the now heavily chromatic theme.

Transition: Comparatively simple chord changes and then a long note over a
crunching tone cluster, resolving to perfect harmony.

Variation 6 [?]: This starts out like another variation, with the 4 bar
statement and 4 bar response. However, instead of repeating, the character
and harmony change and don't fit the harmony of the first 8 bars, as they
would if it were a simple repeat (as in the prior variations). However, it
sort of fits with the harmony of the second section (i.e., the repeat is
omitted), and instead of wildness, Mozart goes the opposite way and becomes
more delicate. Then the first and second sections are played (without
repeats) again.

Coda: Ending with bar 2 of the theme, transformed into a statement and
response cadence.

Questions? Comments? Slings and arrows?

Ken Shaw

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