Considered by everybody the summation of the musical expression, destined to an instrument with a wide range of dynamics and a capability for endless shadings, the Mozart Clarinet Concerto was conceived by the composer at the height of his musical maturity. This feature is also shared by two other masterpieces: the Quintets by Brahms and Reger. Among others also Schubert, Poulenc and Saint-Saëns composed for clarinet at the end of their lives.
Unfortunately the original manuscript of the Concerto KV 622 is not anymore extant. None the less we can consult Mozart’s 199 bar sketch for the work, now known as KV 621b. Mozart’s fragment is scored for basset horn in G, which although now obsolete, had been used by the composer in one of his Notturni for three basset horns and two voices. P. Weston says in one of her articles that D. Springer (bohemian basset hornist active in Vienna) owned such instrument and A. Stadler didn’t have it. Whilst the sketch KV 621b remains incomplete, the concerto KV 622 is scored for basset clarinet in A. This type of clarinet, extending to low C, was conceived and developed by Anton Stadler, Mozart’s close friend and clarinet virtuoso of the Viennese court, in conjunction with Theodor Lotz, one of the finest clarinet makers active in eighteenth-century in Vienna.
Mozart dedicated his Clarinet Concerto to A. Stadler, and according to a letter of Mozart’s wife, also gave to Stadler the original manuscript. Two suppositions are currently held regarding the disappearance of this manuscript: Stadler was robbed of his portmanteau which included the manuscript of the concerto and some instruments, or he was forced to pawn it in order to pay his many debts.
The arrival of Herr Stadler playing on his newly invented extended clarinet is documented on a surviving programme for a concert held in Vienna on February 20, 1788 and again in Riga, Latvia, on February 27, 1794. Recently discovered by the american musicologist Pamela Poulin, this Riga document provides convincing evidence that Mozart originally composed his concerto for the Basset Clarinet in A. This instrument was defined on the programme as a Bass-Klarinette and had at first a lower extension of two more tones, D and C.
The Riga programme includes an illustration of Stadler’s instrument, which is of great importance given the lack of surviving instruments of that type pitched in A. From this illustration the noted historical clarinettist Eric Hoeprich has reconstructed his own Basset Clarinet upon which he has recorded KV 622.
It is worth recalling that the term “Basset Clarinet” was coined by the Czech clarinettist/musicologist Jiri Kratochvil in the mid-twentieth century to reflect the instrument’s resemblance of the basset horn. A citation of the new invented Bassettklarinette of the critic Schoenfeld from 1796 is probably referred (according to some musicologists) to the basset horn.
The Mozart Clarinet Concerto was completed in October 1791, premiered in Prague by Stadler a few days after it was finished (never heard live by the composer!) and published almost simultaneously around the year 1802 by Andrè, Sieber and Breitkopf for the standard A clarinet, most likely for commercial reasons. It has been suggested (but not proven) that Andre himself might have been responsible for the arrangement published by his firm.
A very enthusiast review of the Mozart clarinet concerto of 1802 appeared on Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited also the passages (but not really all of them) intended by Mozart to be played on the basset clarinet using its peculiar low register. Probably the reviewer had the manuscript of Mozart (or at least a copy of it!). It can be possible that the composer G. F. G. Schwencke was the writer of this review, he was a composer from Hamburg and met A. Stadler when he performed in that city, and he received from him the manuscript which he copied and produced an arrangement of the same concerto in the form of Quintet for piano and strings! The right hand of the piano, in this arrangement, is playing the solo clarinet part of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, but very much ornamented! The Clarinet Concertos in A major KV 622 is very close in its lyricism and even in the shape of its themes and their harmonic content to the A major Piano Concertos KV 414 and KV 488 (as remarked by C. Rosen in his book “The Classical Style”).
Just like the Concerto KV 622, the Sinfonia Concertante KV 297b for four winds and orchestra could be considered a real masterpiece for its stylistic beauty and soloistic use of the winds. Also, like the Concerto KV 622, we don’t have an original manuscript of Mozart, but we do have a letter dated april 5, 1778 of the composer to his father saying that he planned to write a piece commissioned by the parisian impresario Jean Le Gros, director of the Concert Spirituels. Jean Le Gros received from Mozart this work but Mozart unfortunately never kept a copy of it. Mozart had even in mind the soloists who had to perform his composition, all of them members of the well known Mannheim Orchestra: the flutist J. B. Wendlig, the oboist F. Ramm, the hornist J. W. Punto and the bassoonist G. R. Ritter.
The first performance of the Sinfonia Concertante of Mozart was supposed to be performed the 5th of April 1778. It happened that after almost one hundred years had been found a manuscript of this piece with a different instrumentation including the clarinet instead of flute and published in 1886. At this point we are not able to say for sure if Mozart himself thought to make this change. We know however that Mozart was very fond of the clarinet and not so much of the flute. Probably he changed idea, thinking that clarinet could be more effective on the timbrical point of view in the group of the four winds. The piece must be, in my opinion, genuine coming from Mozart’s hands, having many similar harmonic parts with other compositions of his, such as the other beautiful Sinfonia Concertante k 364 for violin, viola and orchestra. Mozart scholar Robert Levin wrote in his large dissertation about this piece that the orchestral parts are spurious, but the solo parts are Mozart’s, and while detailed and fascinating, it still cannot definitively state the work’s origin and course. Nevertheless my opinion is that it is such a beautiful piece that nobody else than Mozart could have conceived it.
Album Notes by Luigi Magistrelli
Enrico Bellati: He has started to study horn in a very early age, graduating in 1982 under the guidance of M° Giacomo Zoppi at the A. Vivaldi Conservatory of Alessandria. Then he attended courses with Hermann Baumann, Marcello Rota, Hans Pizka e Gregory Cass. Imediately he took up a professional activity playing, also as solo hornist, with the most important italian orchestras such as San Remo Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana, A. Toscanini Orchestra of Teatro Regio of Parma, Young Symphony Orchestra of Italian Television, V. Bellini Theatre Orchestra of Catania, I Pomeriggi Musicali Symphony Orchestra of Milan, La Fenice Theatre Orchestra of Venice, Teatro Regio Orchestra of Turin, La Scala Theatre Orchestra of Milan, National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Cantelli Orchestra of Milan. He was solo hornist in the production “Giustino” of Musical National Board from 1985 till 1989 , with tournèe in Italy, France, Germany, Argentina, and USA. He often collaborated as principal hornist with Italian Philhamonic Orchestra and Turin Philharmonic Orchestra performing in Spain, Belgium, Malesia, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, Swizerland with many international artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Leopold Rostropovič, Daniel Oren, Antonio Pappano and Giuseppe Sinopoli. He toured all over the world performing at Metropolitan of New York, Teatro Colon of Buenos Aires and Opera National de Paris.
Since 2010 he is chairman of Asti Symphony Orchestra with which he has performed at 2015 Ravello Festival and has made tournèe with Vittorio Grigolo, Il Volo and PFM.
Ezio Rojatti: He has studied Organ and Organistic Composition and he has graduated from “B. Marcello” conservatory (Venice) in Choral Music and Choir Conducting; he has later graduated from “G. Verdi” conservatory (Milan) in Composition under the guidance of G. Manzoni. He has perfected himself in Orchestral Conducting with Carlo Maria Giuliani and Leonard Bernstein. He has worked for Teatro alla Scala in Milan as Assistant Conductor. He has been a full professor at “G. Verdi” conservatory in Milan and is currently teaching at “J. Tomadini” Conservatory in Udine. He has collaborated with prestigious soloists, such as F. Meloni, R. Bruson, F. De Angelis, S. Mildonian, S. Gazzelloni, C. Anderson, M. Baglini, A. C. Antonacci, M. Breeth, F. and B. Mezzena’s Duo, N. Piovani, D. Nordio, Berliner Philharmoniker’s Chamber Orchestra. From 2008 to 2009 he was Artistic Director of Orchestra Guido Cantelli in Milan. In November 2008, he published, with Teatro della Scala’s soloists, a CD containing unpublished music of Mercadante for the magazine Amadeus ; in November 2010 he published a CD dedicated to Bottesini in cooperation with Teatro della Scala’s Virtuosi. In November 2013, Sony published a CD dedicated to Tartini’s music, with Francesco de Angelis.
Francesco Quaranta: He has studied and graduated at the Conservatory of Milan with Sergio Crozzoli obtaining the maximum marks cum laude. Then he also studied with H. Schellenberger, M. Bourge, G.Passin and Omar Zoboli. His solo debut in 1986 was with Radio Orchestra of Milan and Strauss oboe Concerto. Since then he has performed the main soloistic repertoire, also under the baton of the great L. Bernstein. He has won more than ten competitions and auditions. He has been principal oboe with Cantelli Orchestra since 1992 and principal oboe at Pomeriggi Musicali Orchestra of Milan since 2008. In 2006 he won the audition as first oboe at the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra. He performed in the most important Concert Halls (Lincoln Center of New York, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, La Scala Theatre of Milan, Salzburg Festival). He is playing often first oboe as extra with Santa Cecilia National Orchestra, Italian National Radio Orchestra, Carlo Felice Theatre of Genoa, Italian Swiss Orchestra, Solisti Veneti, Regio Theatre of Turin, Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, Turin Philharmonic, Verona Arena Orchestra, Parma Toscanini Orchestra. He recorded for the italian television, wire broadcasting, Mediaset channels, Antenna Tre, ORF Wien, WNYC New York and recorded many Cds for important labels.
Leonardo Dosso: He graduated from the Conservatorio G. Verdi in Milan in 1977. He received a Distinction and specialised in playing the Bassoon. Since graduating his music career has won him many accolades: prize-winner of numerous national and international competitions and was appointed lead bassoonist at the RAI Symphonic Orchestra in Milan. Leonardo is founder of world-famous Chamber Music groups such as Quintetto Arnold, Ottetto Classico Italiano, and many more, including recording albums and receiving wide mention in the music industry press. Leonardo’s interest has led him to research and study ancient bassoon instruments and collaborate with world famous music ensembles. His successful career has spanned many years culminating in being appointed lecturer in Bassoon at the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi in Milan.
Sergey Galaktionov: Born in Russia, he started studying violin and piano at only four years old attending the Central Special Music School of the Moscow Conservatory. He studied conducting with Vladimir Ponkin (G. Rozdestvensky School). In 1993, he moved in Italy to Milan to continue his artistic career. In 1994, he met Claudio Abbado who led him to a collaboration in the following years with orchestras like MJO, Mahler Chamber and Luzern Festival Orchestra. In his artistic career he has collaborated with other great conductors: Solti, Maazel, Haiting, Barenboim, Mazur, Hogwood, Pinnock, Zedda, Noseda, Gatti, Luisi, Luisotti and many others. Since 2004, he is Leader Concertmaster at the Teatro Regio in Turin. He has conducted several programs for chamber orchestra which have seen him as a great protagonist in the season of the Sala Verdi in Milan with the Orchestra Guido Cantelli, with Milano Classica at Palazzina Liberty, with TRT Orchestra at Teatro Regio in Turin and Coliseo in Buenos Aires, with Filarmonica di Gran Canaria in Las Palmas (Auditorium of Alfredo Kraus). He collaborated with Antonio Pappano in the new production of Verdi's "Forza del Destino" at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. In the 2018-2019 season with Teatro Regio di Torino he conducted "L'Elisir d'Amore" by G. Donizetti.
Laura Magistrelli: Born in the province of Milan, she studied clarinet at the Conservatoire "G. Verdi" of Milan with M° Primo Borali; she then attended master classes with Karl Leister, Dieter Klocker and Antony Pay. She is principal clarinet of Cantelli Orchestra since 1994 and also its president from June 2009. With it she held concerts in Italy, Germany, Austria and the U.S.A. in the most prestigious concert halls such as: Sala Verdi, Milan, Dal Verme Theatre, Milan; Accademia di S. Cecilia and Teatro dell'Opera, Rome, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Florence, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York City, Mozarteum, Salzburg. Along with concert activity, with the Cantelli Orchestra, she performed for several audio and video recordings, some of which have been broadcasted by R.A.I. (Italian Public Broadcasting service), Rete4 and Canale5 (private italian television companies). She won, at the beginning of her career, the auditions for the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana, l'Orchestre des Jeunes de la Méditerranèe and Gustav Mahler J.O.; she then held concerts with them in the most important European theatres in France, Germany, Austria, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, Greece, the former Jugoslavia, ex Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Spain. She played under the direction of famous conductors, such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti, George Prêtre, Antony Pay, Fabio Luisi, Luis Bacalov. She has also been playing as first clarinet with several orchestras: I Pomeriggi Musicali, Orchestra Haydn, Trento and Bolzano, Radio Orchestra of Milan, Milano Classica, Orchestra Città di Magenta, Stabile di Bergamo, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, Accademia delle Opere, Milan, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice of Genova. She performed chamber music in several ensembles, varying from the duo up to the octet, also cooperating with the Soloists of Moscow, playing in Italy, France, Germany, Morocco, and in Kenya for the Italian Embassy in Nairobi. As a oloist she held her first concert at the age of 16 at the Teatro Lirico, Milan, playing the concert of K. Stamitz with the Orchestra of the Conservatoire, and then with the R.A.I. Orchestra, Milan, with the Angelicum Orchestra and many others, playing a classical repertoire. She recorded many CDs for Bayer Records, Pongo Classica, Chandos, I.C.A. (International Clarinet Association), Clarinet Classics, Centaur Records, VDE Gallo Losanna, Urania Arts, Camerata Tokyo with Karl Leister. She is Professor of Clarinet at the Conservatoire of Music "G. Verdi" of Milan.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: (b Salzburg, 27 Jan 1756; d Vienna, 5 Dec 1791). Austrian composer, son of Leopold Mozart. His style essentially represents a synthesis of many different elements, which coalesced in his Viennese years, from 1781 on, into an idiom now regarded as a peak of Viennese Classicism. The mature music, distinguished by its melodic beauty, its formal elegance and its richness of harmony and texture, is deeply coloured by Italian opera though also rooted in Austrian and south German instrumental traditions. Unlike Haydn, his senior by 24 years, and Beethoven, his junior by 15, he excelled in every medium current in his time. He may thus be regarded as the most universal composer in the history of Western music.