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 Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Cdh 
Date:   2021-09-13 11:01

A new reconstruction of the basset clarinet part of KV 581 designed for tablet display with good page turns and a few customisation options, on the Historical Clarinets website:

Post Edited (2021-09-13 11:03)

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-09-13 22:58

Thanks again for sharing your great work Craig!

I have found two mistakes in the first movement:
Bar 55: 3rd and 4th notes should be A-flat, B-flat
Bar 129: First note should be A

Are you familiar with the anonymous arrangement for piano quartet published by Artaria and André in 1802/03? In the first movement bar 41 the the piano part continues the scale down to low A (concert pitch). While I agree with you that this "incorrect" inversion gives quite a jarring effect, the fact that it appears like this in the arrangement is quite strong argument for that being the original basset clarinet version, don't you think?

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Cdh 
Date:   2021-09-14 02:54

Thanks for those corrections Liquorice! A corrected version is now on the website:

Apologies to those who downloaded it already. I did now include a replacement page with the downward scale but...

...I think it is unlikely to be by Mozart. I know of that quartet arrangement you mention, but don't have a copy. I think it might be the same as the one published much later by Universal Edition "with fingerings and performance indications by G.A. Glossner", which is on IMSLP. (That arrangement shows elsewhere that it is based on the clarinet adaption, so the downward scale might be the work of a pianist arranger.) Anyway, Werner Breig had a good look at the arrangement and concluded that it was no closer to Mozart's original than the early prints. That article can be found in:

Werner and Fricke, Heike, 'Studien zu Mozarts Klarinettenquintett KV 581’, in Manfred Hermann Schmid (ed.), Mozart Studien Band 15, (Tutzing, 2006)

Meanwhile, the "Grand Sonate" version for clarinet or violin and piano from Artaria (1809) also has the traditional downward and then upward scale. A scan of the original is on IMSLP.

It's also possible that Stadler played a downward scale not written by Mozart, and that later in life he played the quintet on a regular clarinet and made the adaption we know today. Harald Strebel has documented all of Stadler's known concerts on the first few pages of his Vol#2. There are performances on basset horn, Bb basset clarinet, and a private performance of the clarinet quintet for Salieri's 50th birthday, but no Mozart Concerto performances.

Post Edited (2021-09-14 02:59)

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-09-15 10:39

The quartet arrangement has been published by Edition HH (edited by Christopher Hogwood). The first two versions printed were Artaria (1802) dedicated to Gelinek and André (1803). In a later André edition (1875) Gelinek is mistakenly given as the arranger.

The downward scale in the first movement isn't the only place where the basset register was used. For example, there is also the upward arpeggio in Trio II, rather than the traditional triplet figure. But there are other places where the basset register is not used, eg. bars 99-110 in the first movement. The Trio II example would be a strong indication to me that the arranger had at least access to some kind of basset version because that isn't the kind of thing that one would need to change to make the passage more pianistic. But there are other passages which, to my mind, seem to have been adapted to be more idiomatic to piano playing.

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Cdh 
Date:   2021-09-15 11:05

Do you know if the arrangement is the same as the one on IMSLP? I imagine it might be, but without all the added performance indications.

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-09-15 11:12

Yes- it looks like the same arrangement. I find the piano figuration in variation IV (especially the 3rd and 4th bars) quite interesting!

Post Edited (2021-09-15 11:13)

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Cdh 
Date:   2021-09-15 13:20

Yes, it is tempting to make something out of that. But first one would have to decide that there was something "not quite right" about the traditional version...

In the case of the downward scale in the first movement, we could start with the notation. All the appoggiaturas (accented passing notes) are written out in the original editions, not using Mozart's usual notation with grace notes - and they sound simultaneously with their resolutions. Copyists and publishers at the time, such as Andre and Artaria, respected the original notation of grace notes. (Lots of early editions on IMSLP demonstrate that.) Spelling out appoggiaturas in big notes is a more modern thing... well it started already in the 19th century. So did Mozart really write it?

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 No Subject
Author: Cdh 
Date:   2021-09-15 14:56

failed attempt to attach a Musescore file of the bars in question

Post Edited (2021-09-15 14:59)

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-09-15 22:40

Cdh- surely you're not saying that Mozart always wrote all appoggiaturas as grace notes? If you look at the first 8 bars of the solo part in the Concerto, Mozart only uses a grace notation in the 5th bar. But there are appoggiaturas (written out) in bar 7. Probably I'm not understanding you properly?

Post Edited (2021-09-15 22:45)

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Cdh 
Date:   2021-09-16 04:51

No, I don't mean that at all. What I am getting at is that the first reason for reconstructing a passage must be that there is something not quite right about it. That's where we have to be careful when looking at arrangements. We don't want to reconstruct passages that are good as they stand.

Mozart had habitual ways of writing standard formulas, like that phrase ending in bar 7 of the solo entry of the clarinet concerto. In an Allegro the falling semiquaver (16ths) four-note figure is mostly written with a grace note at the start. And that is very often preserved in early editions. But of course there is a difference between one of Mozart's trusted professional copyists and an amateur copyist or pirate copyist etc.. Engravers on the other hand are of course always professionals. So notation might set us on a path of investigation, but can't make the case on its own. For me, the lack of grace notes means that I am not expecting dissonances.

In the quintet I've always played the traditional version of the scale at bar 40-41, and often feel the discomfort of the clashes in the first bar. It's always a relief to get to the second bar because none of the passing notes coincide with the strings. One time, after the strings had carefully tuned the chords and matched articulation, I came back in and the first violinist thought I had wrong notes!

There is also the contradiction that the strings have a clear direction to the last note of their rising figure, but the clarinet ends in the middle, as if it can't make up its mind. I think a lot of players have felt that. The worst thing is if the ensemble makes a diminuendo to try and make sense of that - it spoils the silence and hushed entry after the rest.

The length of time on the dominant chord (3 bars) is also striking. It's quite a long time for a chamber work. There must have been a compelling reason for that. (Utilising the three octave range of the basset clarinet comes to mind.) Is the traditional version compelling?

The rhythm of the clarinet part is also unusual because Mozart is careful not to overuse it, presumably because it causes brief stopping points. In the quintet it comes three times in a row. There are times when it comes twice in a row, but I can't recall any other instance of three or more.

There is also a strong sense of "preparing for something" in the bars beforehand, a bit like an athlete getting ready for a hurdle or a gymnast in their routine. First an abortive attempt (bars 35-36), and then one where the clarinet manages to hold on and use the momentum of bar 39 to pull off something really daring. What was that thing?

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Cdh 
Date:   2021-09-16 07:25

I uploaded three audio versions of that passage to Dropbox, auto-generated by Musescore. There is the traditional version and two reconstructions. Computer sound is horrible of course!

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 Re: Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2021-09-16 21:56

Thanks for explaining your thought process on this passage and also for the audio samples. Now that I'm more aware of those clashes I enjoy the passage even more! :-)

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