The crowning glory of clarinet music
The two compositions by Mozart recorded on this CD are not just brilliant pièces de résistance taken from the oeuvre of an outstanding composer, they also provide two top-ranking international musicians with an opportunity to demonstrate their artistic mastery as well as to celebrate in a suitable musical manner two important days in their lives: here, father and son Marriner have combined forces. Sir Neville, who celebrated his 80th birthday this year, is conducting the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and accompanying his son Andrew, who turned 50 in 2004.
Mozart’s Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet in A, K. 581 is dated September 29, 1789. The clarinettist Anton Stadler – who was a top-ranking virtuoso, as is clear from contemporary reports – encouraged his friend Mozart to write not only his Clarinet Concerto, but also this Quintet. Despite the considerable virtuosity demanded here, the basic idea of this half-hour work is not to give a demonstration of purely technical instrumental skill and brilliance, but to provide a tonal balance between the five instruments involved, as well as a corresponding consistency in the motivic-thematic writing. The clarinet dominates insofar as permitted within Mozart’s understanding of chamber-music: it balances on the narrow line between solo instrument and partner in the design of the composition.