THREE COMPOSER-CLARINETIST PARTNERSHIPS: MOZART-STADLER, WEBER-BÄRMANN, AND BRAHMS-MÜHLFELD
MetadataShow full item record
Collaborations between composers and performers have been responsible for some of the masterworks of Western music, and the repertoire is replete with works inspired by a particular performer‟s tone, technical prowess, musical artistry, or passionate expression. The clarinet repertoire is unique in that major composers from three periods in music history partnered with clarinetists and produced masterworks for the instrument. The relationships explored in this performance project are those of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) to Anton Paul Stadler (1753-1812), Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826) to Heinrich Josef Bärmann (1784-1847), and Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) to Richard Mühlfeld (1856-1907). While all the three clarinetists were masters of the instrument, they differed in their approach to the instrument and in the style of their playing, and the composers‟ differing styles added to the variety of the resulting works. The operatic tendencies of Mozart and Weber were incorporated into their clarinet music, although Mozart‟s was more ensemble-oriented, while Weber‟s tended to a solo-with-accompaniment design. Stadler‟s virtuosity overcame the relatively primitive five-keyed instrument of his time, and Mozart must have had complete trust in his ability. He was also a “drinking buddy” and Masonic brother of Mozart. Both the intimacy of the relationship and Stadler‟s mastery are apparent in the Clarinet Quintet, KV 581 (1789), and Clarinet Concerto, KV 622 (1791). By Weber‟s and Bärmann‟s generation, the clarinet had almost developed into its modern form, and Bärmann‟s playing was likely influenced by early 19th century virtuosi such as Paganini. Though the Grand Duo Concertant in E-flat major, Op. 48, is ensemble-oriented, the rest of Weber‟s clarinet works are virtuosic showpieces. Even the Clarinet Quintet in B-flat major, Op. 34 treats the strings as accompaniment and emphasizes a virtuoso, soloistic role for the clarinet. In contrast to Bärmann, Mühlfeld‟s playing must have emphasized ethereal beauty over technical wizardry, and the clarinet works by Brahms, particularly his Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115, are masterworks of intense, lyrical expression. These three partnerships have established an important development of clarinet repertoire, and the tradition of such partnerships has been persevered today.