Sublime Mozart

Frédéric Platzer
Res Musica (France)

Mozart and the clarinet: a beautiful story

If it is well known that Mozart detested the transverse flute, it is equally known that he adored the clarinet, an instrument whose popularity was begging to soar at that time. In a letter to his father dated 3 December 1778, he wrote ‘If only we had some clarinets! You cannot imagine the sound achieved in a symphony with the combination of flutes, oboes and clarinets.’ Several years later, Mozart became friends with two brothers who played the clarinet in the Vienna court orchestra: Johann (1755 -1804) and, above all, Anton (1753 -1812) Stadler.

Anton Stadler played the basset horn and the basset clarinet, an instrument created specially for him by the maker Theodor Lotz (ca. 1747 – 1792) because he particularly loved the tones of the lower register of the clarinet, the chalumeau. It is for this instrument, then—one should say prototype instrument—that Mozart composed the two works presented on this recording.

The Clarinet Concerto K622 dates from the start of October 1791 and was one of the last scores that Mozart finished. The original manuscript, conceived for basset clarinet has been lost and the oldest version that we know is that by the editor André, dated 1801, altering the solo part so that it could be played on the ‘standard’ clarinet. For this work, Paul Dean is magnificently accompanied by The Queensland Orchestra conducted by a Frenchy: Guillaume Tourniaire . The ensemble is lively and alert with a creamy smooth tone and this version seems very respectable … it is an opportunity to (re)discover the little jewel that the Concerto assuredly is.   

The Clarinet Quintet, Mozart’s venture into chamber music, is just as magnificent