Recorded on 11/28/2005, uploaded on 11/02/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Predating both the quintet and concerto Mozart composed for the relatively new instrument, the Trio in E-flat for clarinet, viola and piano was composed during the summer of 1786. According to a pupil of Mozart’s at the time, the work was dedicated to Franziska Jacquin, also a pupil and whose family was friends with Mozart. The work was premiered in the Jacquin’s home, with Anton Stadler on clarinet, Mozart on viola and Franziska Jacquin on piano. It was published two years later in 1788. Likely as a means to increase the marketability of the work, it was published as a trio for violin (with clarinet as an alternative part), viola and piano.
No doubt the result of the clarinet’s inherent soft tone, composers from Mozart down the line to Brahms have tempered the drama of the first movements of their works for clarinet with expressive lyricism. Mozart’s Trio is no different and goes so far as to even abandon the conventional Allegro tempo for a more tranquil Andante. A short, but lyrical, “turn” motif begins the piece and pervades the entire movement. More melodic, the second theme follows in the dominant key of B-flat. Structured along the lines of sonata form, the first movement does not quite fall into the typical Classical mold. The exposition is not repeated (unusual during the Classical period) and, quite exceptionally, comes to a close on a half cadence in the key of the supertonic. Nevertheless, it is hard to deny that the movement is influenced by the principle of sonata form.
Replacing the usual central slow movement in any three-movement design and as a necessary adjustment brought about by the opening movement, the second movement is a Minuet in B-flat major. Whereas the Minuet is fairly straightforward, the most remarkable part of the movement is the Trio section. Shifting to the key of the relative minor, it is built on a motif that chromatically hovers around the pitches of the tonic triad. Responding to each statement of this eerie motif in the clarinet are restless triplets in the viola punctuated by chords in the piano. For the duration of the Trio, one senses the contrapuntal influence of the not-to-distant Baroque, or perhaps even a foreshadowing of the Romantic period just beyond the horizon.
The finale, a Rondo, is based on a graceful tune announced first by the clarinet and then embellished by the piano. Though it has its spirited moments, like the sixteenth-note runs given to the piano, the finale follows in the footsteps of the opening movement by being overcome with lyricism. An episode in C minor, beginning with a melody in the viola with a “Scotch” snap rhythm, forms a noticeable contrast to the rest of movement. The episode wavers somewhat between C minor and E-flat major but ultimately gives way to a joyous transition leading back to the lyrical principal melody. Much of the movement passes by in content, laidback joy. It is only in the final bars does it take on a more exuberant and energetic tone. Joseph DuBose
Recorded in nyc nov.28 ,2005 recording studio
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