|About this Recording
8.550511 - MOZART: Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major / BEETHOVEN: Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
Quintet in E Flat Major, Op. 16
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Ludwig van Beethoven, called after his distinguished grandfather, Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Cologne, was born in Bonn in 1770, the son of a singer employed at the archiepiscopal court. After early service as organist and viola-player there, Beethoven moved in 1792 to Vienna, encouraged by his patron to further study with Haydn, an arrangement that he found unsatisfactory. Introductions to distinguished musical amateurs in Vienna, however, helped to establish him in the imperial capital as a virtuoso keyboard-player and as a composer of marked originality. His subsequent career, channelled, as a result of increasing deafness, into composition rather than performance, continued in Vienna, to the tolerant admiration of leading members of society, ready to forgive personal eccentricities when coupled with such obvious marks of outstanding musical genius.
Beethoven's E flat major Quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon, was written in 1796 and dedicated to Prince Joseph von Schwarzenberg. It was first performed at a concert organized by the violinist Schuppanzigh on 6th April, 1797, and again the following year in the presence of the Emperor at a concert organized by Salieri in aid of Widows and Orphans. The quintet was published in 1801. Ferdinand Ries has lelt an account of a later performance in which the former Mannheimoboist, recipient of an oboe concerto from Mozart, Friedrich Ramm, took part. To his annoyance and that of the other wind- players, Beethoven chose to improvise extensively during the last movement. The quintet formed part of the Beethoven programme chosen by Schuppanzigh for his farewell concert in Vienna in 1816, before his departure for Russia. The pianist on this occasion was Czerny, who added his own embellishments to his part, causing Beethoven to upbraid him, and, characteristically, to send the next day a letter of apology for his behaviour.
Beethoven modelled his quintet for piano and wind instruments on Mozart's work in the same key and for the same forces. The first movement opens with a slow introduction. The piano leads into the Allegro, the principal theme later taken up by the clarinet, and treated imitatively before the piano leads the way to a second theme, again promptly imitated by the clarinet. A central development of dramatic contrast is followed by the expected recapitulation, the second theme now introduced by the oboe. A brief piano cadenza ushers in the closing section of the movement. The same instrument enters alone to announce the principal theme of the B flat major slow movement, followed by the clarinet. The oboe is followed by the bassoon in the following section, leading to canonic entries from one woodwind instrument after another. The piano otters a decorated version of the theme, joined by the wind, and succeeded by a second episode, for French horn and piano, after which the piano is allowed a still more elaborate version of the principal theme before the movement ends. The piano now leads into the final rondo, a thematic reminiscence of Mozart in hunting mood. The movement includes two contrasting episodes and room for the piano improvisation that proved so annoying to Friedrich Ramm and his colleagues.
Mozart's E flat Quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, K. 452, was completed in Vienna on 30th March, 1784, and included by the composer in a subscription concert, when he also played two piano concertos, K. 450 and K. 451, finished a week or so earlier. In a letter to his father Mozart declares the quintet to be the best work he has ever written, excellently played on the occasion of his concert. He mentions the work once again in a letter in June, when it is to be played at Döbling in a concert organized by the Salzburg agent, Ployer, whose niece, a pupil of Mozart, was also to playa concerto of his and join him in a sonata for two pianos.
The quintet opens with a slow introduction, the initial burden falling to the keyboard, followed by the wind instruments, skilfully interwoven. The first subject of the Allegro is introduced by the piano and answered by the wind, with a second subject similarly shared. The central development is short enough, to be followed by a recapitulation that re-arranges the earlier material between the instruments. In the slow movement it is the piano that joins the wind in answering the initial phrase of the principal theme and provides a later arpeggio accompaniment to exchanges between the instruments. The French horn has new material to suggest in the central section, before a series of wind chords leads back into the first thematic material. The quintet ends in a rondo, its principal melody announced at the outset by the piano, followed by the wind instruments, with a second theme entrusted at first to the oboe. The movement includes a cadenza for all the instruments, the oboe providing the customary trill to signal the return of the principal theme and the closing section of the work.
The Adagio and Rondo, K. 617, was completed in Vienna on 23rd May, 1791, the last year of Mozart's life. It is scored for glass harmonica, flute, oboe, viola and cello, and was intended for the blind performer Marianne Kirchgessner. The musical glasses formed an instrument of some antiquity, used in Pythagorean acoustic experiment. In 18th century England the set of glasses was used to provide a more practical instrument; the tuned glasses, holding different amounts of water to regulate their pitch, were gently rubbed with the finger, to produce a ringing tone. Benjamin Franklin, who heard the instrument at Cambridge, improved it by providing a system of closely placed and carefully graded sizes of glass. This new form of instrument was popularised by the performer Marlanne Davies, who toured Europe exhibiting her prowess, impressing the Mozart family friend Anton Mesmer, who found hypnotic use for it with his patients. Performers. however. found it far from soothing, and nervous irritation led often enough, it was rumoured, to insanity.
Mozart's Adagio and Rondo, in which the ringing tone of the celesta, much later invention, is substituted for the obsolete instrument, opens with a relatively elaborate C minor Adagio, leading to a C major rondo that is introduced by the glass harmonica. followed by the other instruments. While apparently simple in texture, the glass harmonica part seems to otter a formidable challenge to a player, whether blind or not.
Jeno Jandó, piano and celesta
Janos Sebestyen, piano
Jószef Kiss, oboe
Béls Kovács, clsrinet
Jena Keveházi, French horn
Imre Kovács, flute
György Konrád, viola
Tamás Koó, cello
Close the window