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Baroque & Beyond presents The Vivaldi Project with clarinetist Dominic Giardino in The Viennese Clarinet Quartet on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 3:00pm, hosted by the University of North Carolina.

The Clarinet Quartet: Another untold part of chamber music history

The Vivaldi Project, which is about to release its fourth volume of little-known Classical string trios (Discovering the Classical String Trio, MSR classics), is thrilled to be joining forces with Dominic Giardino for a program of Classical Clarinet Quartets. While the Clarinet Quintet might seem to carry the greater historical significance, held up by its two pillars – the Mozart quintet in A major (1789) on one side, and the Brahms quintet in B minor (1891) on the other – in fact, published works for clarinet quartet swamp the scene by comparison. Come hear a selection of these rarely heard works, published in Vienna at the turn of the 19th Century, performed on the instruments of the period.

Quartet in D major, book II, no. 3 (1802) by Franz Anton Hoffmeister
Quartet in C minor, op. 16, no. 1 (1807) by Carl Andreas Geopfert
Quartet in F major, op. 79 (1799), after piano trio in G major KV. 496 by W. A. Mozart, arr. J. André

A Clarinet for every occasion: The sound and technique of the Classical clarinet

Mr. Giardino will playing a different Classical clarinet for each of the three quartets on the program, the instruments pitched to suit both the key and the character of the work. The small number of keys on the Classical period clarinet (5 keys compared to the 17 of the standard modern instrument) require the player to employ the technique of cross fingerings. The result is that some notes are brighter than others, and certain tonalities clearer and simpler to play. To overcome the relative chromatic limitations of the Classical clarinet, 18th-century makers produced instruments pitched in a variety of keys. Beyond keeping the numbers of sharps and flats in the key signature to a minimum, these instruments also produced different timbres that composers could use to evoke different characters
and emotions.

The Clarinet in A has a very soft sound… it is suitable for tender and graceful airs &c. The Clarinet in Bb has a louder and more prominent sound than the A. It is suitable for great effects, like symphonies, overtures &c. The Clarinet in C is louder than the Bb, it is suitable for great effects, such as overtures, sounds of war, &c.

-French composer and music theorist Louis-Joseph Francœur (1738-1804)

Did Mozart write Clarinet quartets?!

The quartet for clarinet and strings in F Major, an arrangement of Mozart’s 1786 trio for piano, violin, and cello in G Major, KV. 496, was published by Johann Anton André around 1799. But who made the arrangement? One argument put forward is that the arrangement is so good it could only have been done by Mozart himself. Surely it could not have been the work of André, an active but unremarkable composer in Vienna at the time. But if not André, then who?

The F major quartet was published, along with arrangements of Mozart’s B-flat and E-flat major violin sonatas for the same instrumentation, soon after André purchased the so-called ‘Mozart-Nachlass’ from the widow Constanze in 1799. André must have known he was on to a good thing as in this same period he also published clarinet quartets by John Wessely (1805), Krommer (1808), Dalberg (1806), and in 1807, the two Op. 16 quartets of Goepfert. André’s publication of Mozart’s quintet also appears during this
period in 1802.

Another treasure from the Moravian Music Foundation

Carl Andreas Goepfert was a virtuoso clarinetist, composer, and arranger. He studied music theory and composition with Mozart in Vienna, and by his own account, Mozart personally gave him all of the scores to his operas, with the instruction that Goepfert should arrange them for wind band. Although Goepfert’s compositions – symphonies, concertos, works for wind band, chamber pieces for diverse instruments, and songs (often involving guitar) – were much admired in his own lifetime, they are only now beginning to
be unearthed from library collections. Enter the Moravian Music Foundation in Winston-Salem, which holds one of the few surviving copies of the two op. 16 clarinet quartets, published by J. André in 1807. Minor keys among such works are rare, and Goepfert’s quartet op. 16, no. 1 exploits the boldness and drama of C minor to fullest. Saturday’s performance of the work may be if not a modern world premiere, at least a modern American premiere.

The Viennese Clarinet Quartet
Saturday, Sept. 23, 3:00pm
Person Recital Hall
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Single tickets $25, Students Free
Purchase online or at the door

Additional Performances

Lecture/recital for The Moravian Music Foundation’s Open House
Sunday, Sept. 24th at 6:00 – free.

Mozart Clarinet Quintet
Tuesday, Sept. 26 @ 7:30
William S. Newman Artists Series
Moeser Auditorium
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tickets: $15

Baroque & Beyond is presented by Preservation Chapel Hill. 610 East Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514