Well, I'm back from a long break. First off, I want to wish everyone a very happy new year!! Not only is it a new year, but it is a "Mozartean" new year. That's right, in case you haven't heard, 2006 will mark Mozart's 250th birthday. So be prepared to hear about Mozart quite a lot.
Speaking of Mozart, I just came across the results from a poll conducted by Classic FM asking users what they felt was Mozart's greatest work. About 103,000 users responded and their top choice: the Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622. This was followed by the Requiem, the Ave Verum Corpus, the Piano Concerto No. 21, and The Marriage of Figaro.
Mozart wrote the Clarinet Concerto, his last instrumental work, in October of 1791, only two months before his untimely death. Indeed, Mozart was a major factor in helping to establish a solid place for the clarinet in the orchestra. Mozart's love of the clarinet developed during the time he spent in Mannheim in 1777 and 1778. His admiration of the instrument grew even more when he met the brothers Anton and Johann Stadler in Vienna who were both virtuoso clarinetists.
Mozart was so impressed with Anton's playing that he wrote not only the Clarinet Concerto for him, but also the Piano and Wind Quintet, K. 452, the Clarinet Trio, K. 498, and the Clarinet Quintet, K. 581.
The concerto has only a quiet orchestral background allowing the clarinet to truly shine. Instead of oboes, Mozart decided to score the work with flutes along with 2 bassoons, 2 horns and strings. However, an interesting aspect of the concerto is that Mozart gave the bass line primarily to the cellos without the support of the double basses. This increases further the serenity of the work.
Mozart's writing for the clarinet proves that he truly understood the instrument fully exploiting it to its true potential without showy cadenzas or virtuosity for its own sake. In the concerto, some of the best cantabile passages ever written for clarinet can be found.
A sense of sorrow is ever present throughout the concerto not only in the Adagio, but also in the other two movements as well suggesting that Mozart may have foreseen his approaching fate. Perhaps H. C. Robbins Landon described the concerto best in his use of a quote from Shakespeare: "The heart dances, but not for joy."
From: [BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Mozart clarinet piece tops poll ]
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