Australian World Orchestra Chamber Ensemble

Friday, 27 April 2018 at 8pm

Daniel Dodds (violin), Natalie Chee (violin), Sally Clarke (viola), David Berlin (‘cello), Francesco Celata (clarinet), Tamara-Anna Cislowska (piano)

 

Tickets for this concert can be purchased in advance

 

Programme

Mozart            Trio in E-flat major for clarinet, viola and piano, K 498, Kegelstatt

Brahms           Clarinet quintet in B minor, op 115

Schumann       Piano quintet in E-flat major, op 44

About the Artists

The Australian World Orchestra (AWO) brings together some of Australia’s most successful classical musicians now working around the world.  As well as symphonic performances, the AWO presents a series of chamber music concerts that showcase the exceptional talents of its musicians. We are fortunate that in 2018 one of those chamber music concerts will be presented for Sydney Mozart Society. Read more about the performers.

Programme Notes

Experience a concert of tender and deeply moving chamber music.  It begins with Mozart’s Kegelstatt trio, a joyous expression of musical friendship. The mood changes with the autumnal beauty and mellowness of a clarinet quintet composed by an aging Brahms. Schumann’s piano quintet brings the concert to a close with its intensity, rich textures and passion. 

MOZART - Trio in E flat for clarinet, viola and piano, K 498, Kegelstatt

Andante/ Menuetto/ Rondeaux: Allegretto

The name ‘Kegelstatt’ was given to this trio because of a story – now discredited – that Mozart composed the trio during a game of skittles in a kegelstatt or bowling alley. The real facts of the trio’s origin are far more interesting and help to explain the warmth and intelligence of this work. Mozart wrote the trio in 1786. The unusual combination of clarinet, viola and piano reflects Mozart’s fondness for the viola and his deep interest in exploring the lyric qualities of the clarinet, then a relatively new instrument. Mozart dedicated the trio to Franziska Jacquin, his student and family friend. The first performance of the work was in the Jacquin home. Mozart’s friend Anton Stadler performed the clarinet part, Mozart himself took the viola part and Franziska Jacquin the piano. It was true chamber music, performed by friends in a genial family home. 

The trio opens with a gentle andante movement that has the feel of an intelligent and complex conversation between the three instruments. There is great warmth and elegance in the blending of the clarinet and viola voices.

The second movement has the grace that we expect of a minuet dance form. But there are moments of seriousness and complexity, particularly from the rich alto voice of the viola, giving the movement an emotional and musical depth

The third movement is a seven part rondo, structured AB–AC–AD–A. While the clarinet plays the principal theme, the piano and viola are equal partners with their own virtuoso passages. The final return of the clarinet is dazzling. Alfred Einstein describes the closing passages as  ‘a distillation of melodic and contrapuntal beauty that does not merely satisfy the listener but leaves him enchanted!’

                                                                                                                           C. B.

BRAHMS – Quintet for Clarinet, 2 Violins, Viola and Violincello in B minor, op. 115

Allegro / Adagio / Andantino – Presto non assai, ma con sentimento / Con moto

There are striking parallels between the Clarinet Quintets of Brahms and Mozart which Professor Colin Lawson CBE, clarinettist and author of a 1998 book devoted to the Brahms op.115 Quintet describes as  “unquestionably the two greatest works for the medium”.  Mozart’s collaboration with Stadler inspired him to compose his Clarinet Quintet and Concerto as well as a number of smaller pieces. Brahms met the Meiningen clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld in 1891 and his performance of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet was a major inspiration for Brahms abandoning his planned retirement to compose his Clarinet Trio,  the Quintet  and in 1894  the two Sonatas Op. 120.

From his early works, Brahms drew on his 19th century predecessors:  Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann in utilising in his orchestral works combinations of the clarinet with other woodwind instruments or strings to achieve warmth or contrast.  In Brahms’s own works, the opening clarinet melody of the third movement of his First Symphony is clearly a precursor to the Andantino of the Clarinet Quintet.

Brahms composed the Clarinet Quintet at the end of a lifetime of experience writing for strings, which gained special inspiration from his friendship with Joseph Joachim. The String Quintet op. 111, was intended by Brahms aged 57 at the end of 1890 to be his swansong. The advanced style and character of this work, with its return to his earlier preoccupations with the gypsy manner, has much in common with the Clarinet Quintet.  The Joachim Quartet with Mühlfeld performed the work in Berlin soon after its composition and subsequently arranged performances in London.

Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet was immediately recognised as a great work, in spite of his own initial preference for the Trio. Grove’s Dictionary asserts that:  “for emotional intensity and beauty of tone-colour the Clarinet Quintet may well claim the top-most place in Brahms’s chamber music”. As early as 1905, Florence May in her biography of Brahms described it as containing “the richest fruits of the golden harvest of the poet’s activity”. Clara Schumann on first hearing Mühlfeld perform the work in 1893 described it in her diary as: “a marvellous work ..…the wailing clarinet takes hold of one …… what interesting music, deep and full of meaning.”

The character of the work is often described as autumnal or nostalgic and the mood is maintained by the prevalence throughout of the tonic key of B minor. The integration of strings with the clarinet   as “equals” across the movements creates an intimate reflective tone. Only in the Adagio the passage of vigorous gypsy music brings the clarinet to the forefront.

The Allegro has a sonata form structure but displays great freedom and inventiveness. The opening four bars preceding the entry of the clarinet are significant and recur through the work.  The development section contains an enormous concentration of material. Following a chord in B minor there is an interchange of counterpoint between viola and clarinet.  A transition passage introduces the second subject in D. A codetta leads into a leisurely development section before the recapitulation. The clarinet concludes the coda with a final eight bars of “subdued resignation” (Lawson).

The Adagio is characterised by a simple outline with detailed elaboration of the thematic material. The close of the movement with the clarinet climbing by delicate arpeggios to a last falling third has been described as one of the most beautiful endings in all chamber music.

The Andantino forms a bridge between the Adagio and the Presto commencing with an opening seven  bar passage on the clarinet with an accompaniment of violin and cello. It concludes with a brief restatement of the main Andantino theme.

The finale is a rigorous pattern of a theme, five variations and a coda. The variations are of the more traditional type of ornamentation on a continuously recognisable theme. The masterful coda brings together themes from the first movement and the finale. The final cadenza presents an augmented version of the end of the first movement, played softly with a penultimate forte chord.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                           R. C.

SCHUMANN -  Piano quintet in E flat, op 44

Allego brillante/ In modo d’una marcia. Un poco largamente – Agitato / Scherzo: Molto vivace / Finale: allegro ma non troppo

Schumann completed the initial draft of his piano quintet in E flat in just five days and completed the score at the beginning of October, 1842. The quintet, which is the first work ever written for a string quartet combined with a piano , is probably Schumann’s best known chamber work.

The Composer’s personal state at the time is apparent as much through the fresh, positive opening statement as through the warm, lyrical, second theme. The second movement, a C minor rondo in sonata form, is entirely different, being built around a solemn march, which is quite similar in character, form and tonality to the funeral march of Beethoven’s Eroica symphony. In this case, however, the sombre mood is relieved by the two appearances of the second subject in a minor key.

The main theme of the scherzo is not much more than an ordinary scale; the rhythms of the ascending and descending scales, however, are so craftily varied that one has difficulty in detecting where the beat falls. The scherzo is unusually extended by the inclusion of two trio sections.

To conclude the work, the energetic finale combines both sonata and rondo forms and culminates in a coda that is in fact, an ingenious double fugue.

                                                                                                                         M. C.