About this Recording
8.553585 - MOZART, W.A.: 5 Divertimentos, K. Anh. 229 (Berkes, Koji Okazaki, Tomoko Takashima)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Five Divertimentos, K. 439b

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son 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 elder daughter Nannerl were able to astonish audiences The boy played both the keyboard and the violin and could improvise and soon write down his own compositions.

The 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, but 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 Die Zauberflöte and the possibility of increased patronage.

The attribution of the Five Divertimentos, K. 439b to Mozart has been questioned by some scholars. There is no surviving autograph and no reference to the 25 pieces in Mozart's own catalogue of his compositions. They have, however, been identified with the 'still unknown Trios for basset horn' mentioned by the composer's widow, Constanze, in a letter of 31st May 1800 to the publisher Johann Anton Andre. There she alleges that the clarinettist Anton Stadler had various manuscripts and copies of Trios for basset-horns in his possession but claims that they have been stolen, while she has heard that the box containing these and other items has, in fact, been pawned. It should be mentioned that Stadler owed Mozart 500 florins at the time of the latter's death, a debt described in the account of Mozart's estate as unrecoverable. The first publication of any of the pieces that constitute the Five Divertimentos came in 1803 from Breitkopf and Hiirtel in Leipzig, when the firm issued a collection under the title Petites Pieces Pour Deux Cors de Bassette et Basson par W. A. Mozart Livr. I, which contains an incomplete version of Divertimento 11, without its opening Allegro and with an apparently spurious final movement. It was in 1806 or later that Simrock issued Trois Serenades pour deux Clarinettes et Basson, Composees par W. A. Mozart, Livre I. A variety of further arrangements followed in the succeeding years. The Simrock publication included all 25 pieces, as they are here recorded, scored for two clarinets and a bassoon. The problems surrounding these Divertimenti or Serenades and their instrumentation, perhaps intended by Mozart as a series of six such works, are fully discussed by Marius Flothuis in the preface to the Neue Mozart Ausgabe issue of the pieces (NMA: VIII, 21. xvi-xix), where they are dated to a period between 1783 and 1788.

The Stadler brothers, Anton and Johann, clarinettists and basset-horn players, had been employed in Vienna in the 1770s by the Russian ambassador and had appeared in public concerts. By 1779 they had found occasional employment in the court musical establishment, which they joined in 1782, as permanent members of the court wind band, taking up appointments to the court orchestra in 1787, the first clarinettists to do so. It was Anton Stadler who developed the so-called basset clarinet, an instrument of lower range than the clarinet normally in use, and it was for Stadler and the basset clarinet that Mozart wrote his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Concerto in 1789 and 1791 respectively. The basset- horn, for which Mozart wrote on various occasions, belongs to the clarinet family and was built in various keys, with an extended lower range. It was an instrument used by the Stadler brothers, who had also made various technical changes in its possible range and keys, as Anton Stadler had with the clarinet itself.

The Five Divertimentos in C major into which Mozart's 25 short pieces have been grouped each have five movements. The first Divertimento starts with a sonata-form Allegro. This is followed by the first Minuet, with a contrasting F major Trio, while the succeeding Adagio provides a brief contrast of mood. There is a second Minuet, with an F major Trio and a final Rondo of transparent texture and form, including episodes in F major and A minor, framed by the principal theme.

The second Divertimento has a marginally less complex tripartite introductory movement. Again the first Minuet frames an F major Trio and the Larghetto that follows is in ternary form. The second Minuet has a G major Trio of dynamic contrasts and the final Rondo includes contrasting episodes in C minor and F major, while a brief cadenza precedes the last appearance of the principal theme.

There is a sonata-allegro movement to open the third Divertimento and a brief hint of the key of C minor in the opening of the F major Trio with its triplet rhythms, framed by the first Minuet. The Adagio, in which a slightly varied version of the main theme is repeated, leads to the second Minuet, with a C minor Trio. The last movement is again a Rondo. Here the first episode remains in the opening key, while the second episode is in C minor, with a brief excursion into E flat major.

The three instruments open the fourth Divertimento in unanimity, introducing a sonata- form movement, with a touch of contrapuntal imitation in its conclusion. The F major Larghetto is in ternary form, succeeded by a Minuet and a Trio in F major. The following movement is a short Adagio, in which affinities with the March of the Priests from The Magic Flute have been detected. The last movement is a Rondo, although not so titled. There is some poignancy about the first episode, in C minor, and contrast in the second, in F major.

It has been suggested that there is less coherence about the movements assembled for the fifth Divertimento, and it is this that has led to speculation about Mozart's possible intentions. There is a moving opening Adagio, a sprightly Minuet and Trio, both in the same key, with the latter largely underpinned by a repeated note in the bass, a peasant dance, A gentle Adagio here precedes a Romance, with a middle section that finds room for more activity in the accompanying parts, before the return of the main theme, The last piece is a lively F major Polonaise, which ends somewhat abruptly.

Keith Anderson

Kálmán Berkes
The distinguished Hungarian clarinettist Kálmán Berkes took his degree at the Budapest Liszt Music Academy in 1972, winning second prize at the Geneva International competition two years later and in 1975 in Munich with his Opera Wind Quintet. He has been principal clarinettist in a number of leading Hungarian orchestras, including the Hungarian State Opera, Budapest Philharmonic and Budapest Festival Orchestras and for ten years was a member of the Budapest Chamber Ensemble.

In 1982 he founded his own group, the Budapest Wind Ensemble. Regular concert tours have taken Kálmán Berkes to leading European and international festivals, to Japan and to the United States, where he has appeared with fellow musicians of distinction, including James Galway, Maurice André, Zoltán Kocsis and András Schiff. He has given masterclasses in Europe and America and holds a visiting professorship at the Musashino Music Academy in Tokyo.

Tomoko Takashima
Tomoko Takashima was born in 1973 in Japan and started to play the clarinet at the age of twelve, studying from 1987 with Takafumi Kamacsa and Waka Sugo. She is a graduate of the Musashino Academy of Music, where she continued postgraduate study and began recording for Naxos in 1994, with her teacher, Kálmán Berkes.

Koji Okazaki
Bornin Hiroshima, Koji Okazaki began his study of the bassoon at the age of sixteen and had his professional training from 1968 to 1972 at the Musashino Academy of Music, thereafter joining the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. A first prize winner at two of the NHK/MaiNichi Music Competitions, he was awarded the Deutsche Akademische Austauschen Dienst Fellowship in 1974 and embarked on a course of study at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie in Detmold, undertaking concert-tours and recordings as a member of the Detmold Wind Ensemble. A prize- winner in the Trio Class at the Colmar International Chamber Music Competition, he graduated with the highest distinction in 1978 and was immediately invited to take up his present position as principal bassoonist of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. He also serves as a member of the teaching staff of the University of Art, the Musashino Academy of Music and Elizabeth Music University.

Close the window