Quatuor Dialogues [Vinciane Baudhuin, hobo; Annelies Decock, viool; Mika Akiha, altviool; Ronan Kernoa, cello] en Ewald Demeyere, pianoforte.
Concert 26/5/2016 CC De Bogaard. Academiezaal Sint-Truiden -> calendar
The Serenade in B flat major K.361/370a by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the so-called Gran Partita (this appellation is not the composer’s), is inarguably one of the greatest works in the wind instrument repertoire. It adheres to the Viennese tradition of Harmoniemusik—music for wind ensembles intended to add lustre to aristocratic events and banquets—yet transcends the genre by its instrumentation (two basset-horns, two horns and a double bass were added to the traditional octet), its monumental proportions (seven movements) and the richness of its musical inventiveness.
The Gran Partita is inextricably linked with the figure of Anton Stadler, the Viennese clarinet virtuoso and member of the imperial Harmonie. He is presumed to have met Mozart when the latter arrived in Vienna in 1781. There is general agreement today that the Serenade K.361 was commissioned by Stadler.
Furthermore, it was most probably Stadler who, during a concert tour through northern Europe in 1794, provided Schwencke with the score from which the latter subsequently made an arrangement, renaming it ‘Gran Quintetto’.
Christian Friedrich Gottlieb Schwencke (1767-1822), son of a Hamburg town musician, succeeded Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach as Stadtkantor and Musikdirector. He was renowned for his boundless admiration for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Schencke did not merely collect Mozart’s repertoire, but contributed actively to its dissemination. In order to reach as large a public as possible, he made, and had published, numerous arrangements of famous works by his idol. This practice was common and very popular among music lovers and amateurs. It allowed the revival of masterpieces in the private salons of the aristocracy and rising bourgeoisie, works that might otherwise have sunk into oblivion. Schwencke made a version for quintet with oboe of the Gran Partita.
In order to replace the thirteen instruments of the original version, Schwencke thus chose to combine two new complementary media emblematic of this period of chamber music: the fortepiano and the oboe quartet. Indeed, the second half of the 18th century saw the advent of new instruments alongside the emergence of new musical genres. The fortepiano differs from its predecessor, the harpsichord, in that it uses a mechanism of hammered instead of plucked strings, resulting in a greater dynamical range. The Classical oboe is characterized by an easier and more extended upper register and a sonority that can in turn be soft, light, clear or pungent. These expressive sound qualities, particularly adapted to the role given to the oboe in the emerging genre of the symphony, were also fully exploited in a new type of chamber music: the oboe quartet. Almost two hundred oboe quartets were composed in Europe between 1760 and 1800. Schwencke’s arrangement is a masterpiece of orchestration, a rendering of the original score that is both faithful and richly colored. He did not merely transcribe the material from one instrument from the version for thirteen to another from the quintet. The melodic material has been ingeniously redistributed amongst the different parts, resulting in particularly varied sound combinations.
By way of an unequalled masterpiece of chamber music, this recording wants to restore a tradition and an art that we tend to neglect, if not despise, in the name of our search for authenticity: that of arrangement. Practiced by all great masters through the ages, and thus approved by them, it met the needs of a growing market of amateurs and dilettanti amongst the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. Not only was it lucrative for the editors and arrangers, but it contributed to the popularity of the composers as well, both in their native countries and abroad. Moreover, it played a far from negligible social and educational role during the century of the Enlightenment which advocated human emancipation through knowledge, contact with nature, and the arts.