Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A


Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet was born from his love of the newly-found instrument. Written for the famous clarinettist Anton Stadler, the quintet showcased the ability of the clarinet and it became a marker for what was to become of the instrument. However, the work is not a solo clarinet accompanied by a string quartet, all of the voices work together to create a truly wonderful collaborative work. 


The Music
Movement I – Allegro

The opening movement to the quintet sets the scene for the entire work. Composed of three main themes, each introduced by the strings, the movement becomes a reactive exercise for the clarinet. Each time a new theme is played, the clarinet reacts in a different way, either with changes in rhythm, adding embellishments, or modulating to a new key. The music is rich and sonorous throughout the development section in particular, which leads to the exciting conclusion.


Movement II – Larghetto

Listen out in the second movement for the clarinet coming into the spotlight to play the sublime main melody. The movement opens like a song, and this soon turns into a touching duet between the clarinet and violin. 


Movement III – Menuetto & Trio

Full of energy, the third movement brings the voices back together for a classic minuet and trio. These dance-like sections all use the clarinet differently, from either using it to lead the theme, or to be very much in the mix, Mozart’s clever arrangement of the instruments is a highlight of the movement. 


Movement IV- Allegretto con variazioni

The expansive finale features no less than five variations. This movement showcases Mozart’s masterful pen which takes us on such an exciting journey. The clarinet has a chance to play a more virtuoso part during the finale, which brings the quintet full circle in terms of development. The joyful end to the leaves you on a high as the quintet frolic towards the final bars of this masterful chamber work.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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You might also enjoy… Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Clarinet Quintet in F# Minor


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