MOZART: Piano Quintet, K. 452 / BEETHOVEN: Piano Quintet, Op. 16

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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)

Quintet in E Flat Major, Op. 16

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)

Quintet in E Flat Major, K. 452

Adagio and Rondo in C Minor/C Major, K. 617

Ludwig van Beethoven, called after his distinguishedgrandfather, Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Cologne, was born in Bonn in 1770, the sonof a singer employed at the archiepiscopal court. After early service as organist andviola-player there, Beethoven moved in 1792 to Vienna, encouraged by his patron to furtherstudy with Haydn, an arrangement that he found unsatisfactory. Introductions todistinguished musical amateurs in Vienna, however, helped to establish him in the imperialcapital as a virtuoso keyboard-player and as a composer of marked originality. Hissubsequent career, channelled, as a result of increasing deafness, into composition ratherthan performance, continued in Vienna, to the tolerant admiration of leading members ofsociety, ready to forgive personal eccentricities when coupled with such obvious marks ofoutstanding musical genius.

Beethoven's E flat majorQuintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon, was written in 1796and dedicated to Prince Joseph von Schwarzenberg. It was first performed at a concertorganized by the violinist Schuppanzigh on 6th April, 1797, and again the following yearin the presence of the Emperor at a concert organized by Salieri in aid of Widows andOrphans. The quintet was published in 1801. Ferdinand Ries has lelt an account of a laterperformance 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, Beethovenchose to improvise extensively during the last movement. The quintet formed part of theBeethoven 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 hisown 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 instrumentson Mozart's work in the same key and for the same forces. The first movement opens with aslow introduction. The piano leads into the Allegro, the principal theme later taken up bythe 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 isfollowed by the expected recapitulation, the second theme now introduced by the oboe. Abrief piano cadenza ushers in the closing section of the movement. The same instrumententers alone to announce the principal theme of the B flat major slow movement, followedby the clarinet. The oboe is followed by the bassoon in the following section, leading tocanonic entries from one woodwind instrument after another. The piano otters a decoratedversion of the theme, joined by the wind, and succeeded by a second episode, for Frenchhorn and piano, after which the piano is allowed a still more elaborate version of theprincipal theme before the movement ends. The piano now leads into the final rondo, athematic reminiscence of Mozart in hunting mood. The movement includes two contrastingepisodes and room for the piano improvisation that proved so annoying to Friedrich Rammand 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 asubscription 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 bethe best work he has ever written, excellently played on the occasion of his concert. Hementions the work once again in a letter in June, when it is to be played at Dobling in aconcert organized by the Salzburg agent, Ployer, whose niece, a pupil of Mozart, was alsoto playa concerto of his and join him in a sonata for two pianos.

The quintet opens with a slow introduction, the initial burdenfalling to the keyboard, followed by the wind instruments, skilfully interwoven. The firstsubject of the Allegro is introduced by the piano and answered by the wind, with a secondsubject similarly shared. The central development is short enough, to be followed by arecapitulation that re-arranges the earlier material between the instruments. In the slowmovement it is the piano that joins the wind in answering the initial phrase of theprincipal theme and provides a later arpeggio accompaniment to exchanges between theinstruments. The French horn has new material to suggest in the central section, before aseries of wind chords leads back into the first thematic material. The quintet ends in arondo, its principal melody announced at the outset by the piano, followed by the windinstruments, with a second theme entrusted at first to the oboe. The movement includes acadenza for all the instruments, the oboe providing the customary trill to signal thereturn 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, violaand cello, and was intended for the blind performer Marianne Kirchgessner. The musicalglasses 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 practicalinstrument; 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, whoheard the instrument at Cambridge, improved it by providing a system of closely placed andcarefully graded sizes of glass. This new form of instrument was popularised by theperformer Marlanne Davies, who toured Europe exhibiting her prowess, impressing the Mozartfamily 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 wasrumoured, to insanity.

Mozart's Adagio and Rondo, in which the ringing tone of thecelesta, much later invention, is substituted for the obsolete instrument, opens with arelatively elaborate C minor Adagio, leading to a C major rondo that is introduced by theglass 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 blindor not.

Jeno Jando, piano and celesta

Jeno Jando was born at Pecs, in south Hungary, in 1952. Hestarted to learn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Uszt Academyof Music under Katalin Nenies and pal Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latter on hisgraduation in 1974. Jand6 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 thechamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. In additionto his many appearances in Hungary, he has played widely abroad in Eastern and WesternEurope, in Canada and in Japan. He is currently engaged in a project to record allMozart's piano concertos and sonatas for Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos labelinclude the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and the complete piano sonatas ofBeethoven.

Janos Sebestye
Disc: 1
Adagio and Rondo, K. 617
1 I. Grave - II. Allegro, ma non troppo
2 III. Andante cantabile
3 IV. Rondo: Allegro, ma non troppo
4 I. Largo - II. Allegro moderato
5 III. Larghetto
6 IV. Allegretto
7 Adagio - Allegretto
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