About this Recording
8.550439 - MOZART, W.A.: Piano Trio, K. 498 / Violin Sonata No. 26 (arr. for clarinet and string trio) (Balogh, Kovács, Konrad, Danubius Quartet, Jandó)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Trio in E Flat Major, K. 498 (Kegelstatt Trio)
Quartet in B Flat Major, K. 378 (K. 317d) (rev. Béla Kovacs)
Quartet in F Major, K. 496

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was barn in Salzburg in 1756, the san of a court musician who, in the year of his youngest child's birth, published an influential book on violin-playing. Leopold Mozart rose to occupy the position of Vice-Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg, but sacrificed his own creative career to that of his son, in whom he detected early signs of precocious genius. With the indulgence of his patron, he was able to undertake extended concert tours of Europe in which his son and his eider daughter Nannerl were able to astonish audiences. The bay played bath the keyboard and the violin and could improvise and soon write dawn his own compositions.

Childhood that had brought Mozart signal success was followed by a less satisfactory period of adolescence largely in Salzburg, under the patronage of a new and less sympathetic Archbishop. Like his father, Mozart found opportunities far too limited at home, while chances of travel were now restricted. In 1777, when leave of absence was not granted, he gave up employment in Salzburg to seek a future elsewhere, but neither Mannheim nor Paris, both musical centres of some importance, had anything for him. His Mannheim connections, however, brought a commission for an opera in Munich in 1781, and after its successful staging he was summoned by his patron to Vienna. There Mozart's dissatisfaction with his position resulted in a quarrel with the Archbishop and dismissal from his service.

The last ten years of Mozart's life were spent in Vienna in precarious independence of both patron and immediate paternal advice, a situation aggravated by an imprudent marriage. Initial success in the opera-house and as a performer was followed, as the decade went on, by increasing financial difficulties. By the time of his death in December 1791, however, his fortunes seemed about to change for the better, with the success of the German opera The Magic Flute, and the possibility of increased patronage.

The clarinet in its more primitive form, a simple single-reed instrument of cylindrical bore, has an ancient history. The chalumeau, the form of the instrument known in 17th century Europe, was developed at the beginning of the following century to give a wider and higher range, with two contrasting registers, the so called chalumeau or lower register and the upper flute-like notes, now possible with an additional register key. The clarinet won only gradual acceptance as an orchestral instrument, notably in Vienna with the brothers Johann and Anton Stadler, engaged in the Imperial wind band from 1773 and from 1787 in the court orchestra. Anton Stadler, specialising in the lower register, experimented with a form of the instrument with a still lower range, now generally known as the basset clarinet, for which Mozart wrote his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Concerto, both designed for Anton Stadler.

Mozart's Kegelstatt Trio, for clarinet, viola and piano, was completed on 5th August 1786, its nick-name derived from the suggestion that the work was composed during the course of a game of skittles. The Trio was written for the Jacquin family and in particular for Mozart's pupil Franziska Jacquin, who presumably played it with Anton Stadler, with the composer himself playing the viola. When the work was published by Artaria in 1788, it was prudently advertised as for violin, viola and keyboard, a necessary commercial adjustment, with an added note that the violin part could be played instead on the clarinet.

The Trio opens with an Andante in which the piano, initially together with the viola, announces the theme, then capped by the clarinet, which is later entrusted with the second subject, given to the viola in its re-appearance in the recapitulation. The second movement is a Minuet, in the key of B flat, with a contrasting G minor Trio section that puts the viola through its paces. The final Rondeaux opens with the principal theme played by the clarinet. The movement includes a dramatic excursion into C minor for the viola and further brief opportunities for virtuosity in music of subtle refinement and moments of poignant beauty in music written at the height of Mozart's career.

After Mozart's death in December 1791, his widow Constanze came to an agreement with the publisher the younger Johann Andre, who in 1799 bought the remaining Mozart manuscripts and set about the preparation of a catalogue of his compositions, a list that remained incomplete but was of material assistance to Köchel, when he came to make his catalogue. In 1799 Andre published Trois Quatuors pour Clarinette, Violon / Alto & Violoncelle composes par W. A. Mozart Oeuvre 79me. Of these three quartets the first two are based on the sonatas for violin and piano K. 378 and K. 380 and the third is aversion of the Piano Trio K. 496. It is improbable that these arrangements were by Mozart, but they have been plausibly attributed to Andre, who, like his father, was a not inconsiderable composer. The transcriptions make good use of the medium, with additional voices where these are called for and a convincing sharing of thematic material between violin and clarinet.

The B flat major Sonata for violin and piano, K. 378, was written in Salzburg early in 1779, after Mozart's reluctant return home after his unfortunate visit to Paris in the preceding year. There is some subtlety in the arrangement, particularly in the allocation of parts in the central development of the first movement of the transcription, in which the violin still retains a leading part. The clarinet announces the principal theme of the E flat slow movement, and this is later entrusted to the violin, with an arpeggio accompaniment from the clarinet. The clarinet is the first to state the cheerful principal theme of the last movement, closely followed by the violin, an equal partner in what follows.

The F major Quartet, transposed from the original Piano Trio key of G major, is from a work originally written in Vienna in July 1786. The clarinet plays the first theme, originally given to the piano, followed by the violin, the arpeggios of the theme and of the accompaniment then offered by the clarinet, suit the instrument particularly well. A slow movement of more elaborate figuration is followed by a final theme and six variations.

Béla Kovacs
Born in Tatbanya in 1937, Béla Kovacs studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and from 1956 until 1981 was principal clarinettist in the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra. In 1969 he joined the teaching staff of the Liszt Academy. Béla Kovacs is well known as a member of the Hungarian Wind Quintet and the Budapest Chamber Ensemble and as soloist in the first performances of a number of works by contemporary Hungarian composers. Awards in Hungary include the title Artist of Merit and the Kossuth Prize.

József Balogh
József Balogh was born in Pécs in 1956, studying first in his native city and then at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. In 1974 he was a prize-winner at the Prague Concertino Festival and joined the orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera in 1976, also serving as principal clarinet in the Hungarian Radio Orchestra. Since 1988 he has been on the teaching staff of the Budapest Academy. In 1989 he was awarded a scholarship to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Sir Georg Solti. He has won various awards, including first prize at the Graz International Competition in 1988, when he performed with his frequent colleagues of the Danubius Quartet.

Jeno Jandó
Jeno Jandó was born in Pécs, in south Hungary, in 1952. He started to learn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music under Katalin Nemes and pal Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latter on his graduation in 1974. Jandó has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad, including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the chamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. In addition to his many appearances in Hungary, he has played widely abroad in Eastern and Western Europe, in Canada and in Japan. He has recorded all Mozart's piano concertos and sonatas for Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven.

György Konrad
Born in Szeged in 1924, György Konrad served as principal violist in the Hungarian State Orchestra and the Hungarian Chamber Orchestra from 1951 until 1976. Since 1959 he has been a member of the Tatrai Quartet, touring throughout Hungary and Europe, and to Japan and the United States of America. Awards include the Kossuth Prize.

Danubius Quartet
The Danubius Quartet has won considerable acclaim since its establishment in 1983. With the violinists Adel Miklós and Maria Zs. Szabó, violist Cecilia Bodolai and cellist Ilona Ribli, and the artistic direction of the distinguished violinist Vilmos Tatrai, the quartet won awards at Trapani, Evian and Graz in the earlier years of its foundation, and has recorded, among other works, the String Quartet No.1 of Reményi for Hungaroton, the complete String Quartets of Villa-Lobos for Marco Polo and for Naxos the Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets. The Danubius Quartet has given recitals in Austria, Germany, Yugoslavia, Italy, France and Switzerland and appeared at a number of international festivals.

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