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Václav Pichl, W. A. Mozart
Clarinet Music


F10079    [8595017407925]
TT- 65:37    released 9/1997

      Václav Pichl (1741 - 1805)
      Three Quartets for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Violoncello, Op. 16
      Quartet in E
    1. Allegro moderato    5:54 
    2. Larghetto grazioso    4:42 
    3. Andantino con variazioni    5:02
      Quartet in B 
    4. Allegro moderato    9:42 
    5. Andante piu tasto larghetto    5:08 
    6. Rondo. Allegretto    6:14
      Quartet in E 
    7. Allegro    6:04 
    8. Larghetto cantabile    2:19 
    9. Rondo. Allegretto    4:46

      Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
    10. Allegro in B   7:50
      of a Quintet for Clarinet, two Violins, Viola and Violoncello KV 91 (K. 516c) 

      anonymous (c. 1800)
    11. Variations in B (del Signore L.)    7:19

Jiří Krejčí - clarinet by W. Horák, Praha, the end of 18th century
Pro arte antiqua Praha
Václav Návrat - violin by Franz Anton Wild, Brno 1792
Jan Šimon - viola (1-9,11) by Johann Georg Leeb, Pressburg 1790;
     - violin (10) by unknown French master, 2nd half of 18th century
Ivo Anýž - viola (10) by unknown German master, Orfönburg 1808
Petr Hejný - cello by Peregrino Zanetto, Bresciae 1581
     a = 428 Hz

The Czech composer Václav Pichl was born on 25th August 1741 in Bechyně, South Bohemia. If we were to visit this picturesque hamlet with its numerous historical monuments, among them the house where the composer was born, we would have a better understanding of the heritage of Pichl`s art. It is Czech Baroque art which echoed through the Czech Lands for so long, the era in which music, particularly instrumental music, began to flourish. The composer began his musical career as a young chorister and violinist. He acquired a classical education at the Latin school of the Jesuit seminary in Březnice and later in St Wenceslas`s seminary in Prague. Here he studied law, philosophy and theology but devoted most of his time to music. He studied the violin intensively and also took composition lessons with Josef Seger who, at that time, was a leading figure in Prague musical life. From a novice he soon became a brilliant violinist whose ambitions attracted the attention of Carl Ditters when the latter came to Prague in 1765 to select capable players for the orchestra of Adam Patačič, bishop of Great Oradea. Pichl was accepted and his stay in the Hungarian Lands paved the way for his artistic independence. When he left for Vienna four years later he set foot on a path from which he was never to deviate. He gave concerts, captivated audiences with his masterful performances on the violin, he taught dazzling young violinists and the whole of Europe was taken by his works. In 1775 Pichl was appointed musical director and chamber composer for Archduke Ferdinand - Governor of Milan. Milan thus became his home for over twenty years where he invited his compatriots active in Italy at the time - Josef Mysliveček, Jan Ladislav Dusík, Vojtěch Jírovec, among others. He took great pains to amass memoirs, scores, letters and reviews, and he alsobegan writing a book. During the invasion of the French army in Milan in 1796, Pichl`s house was besieged and with it his extensive archives, including the book he had begun. It was a loss which Pichl was never able to come to terms with. He spent the last few years of his life in Vienna where he continued to compose music; he gave concerts, taught and was regarded as a leading figure in the cultural environment of the city. He died on 4th June 1805 during a performance he was giving in the palace of Prince Lobkowicz, his violin in his hands. Sadly, we know only a fragment of his considerable output - roughly 700 works in total.
     The Three Quartets for clarinet, violin, viola and violoncello in E flat major, B flat major and E flat major respectively, were published together in Berlin in 1790, opus no.16. They are dedicated to Monsignor Giuseppe Albani and were written during the period Pichl was working in the services of Archduke Ferdinand in Milan. They all have three movements: the first movements are in sonata form, the second in ternary form and the third movements incorporate variations (no. 1) or rondos (nos. 2 and 3). They bear the mark of Viennese Classicism and are formally reminiscent of certain chamber works by Josef Haydn. Their specifically brisk introductory themes provide a contrast to the secondary themes which are characterised by Czech melodiousness and the influence of folksongs. In the rondo of the 3rd quartet the composer quotes almost precisely the Czech folksong "I have my lass in Roudnice". Under a more thorough analysis, we will discover that Pichl was well acquainted with the acoustic and technical possibilities of the wind instruments, the clarinet in this case. He chiefly makes use of the clarinet`s sonorous registers and also that of the lower shawm for the accompanying figurations which frequently appear in the concertante works of W. A. Mozart. The string instrument parts, in particular, the first violin, allows for the performer`s virtuosity. The quartets were also published, under the same opus number, in transcription for the flute or oboe, as was customary for the time in order that the works could enjoy greater application. The keys, however, clearly indicate that the clarinet was intended for the part. If we take a look at the relatively large number of chamber works for a similar instrumental arrangement (wind instrument with strings) the quartets of Václav Pichl compare favourably for their simple melodious character and distinctive expression. The string instrument parts in the Hummel edition, the quartets` first publisher, are stored in the music department of the Prague Clementinum (National Library). I discovered the clarinet part by chance in the library of the Music Academy in Milan.
     Only a fragment of the Allegro in B flat major for clarinet, two violins, viola and violoncello by W. A. Mozart K. 516c has survived, however we do notice that all the parts were written into the score until the sudden termination after bar 93. We were able therefore to make the assumption that the composition was originally complete and Robert D. Levin could then finish the whole movement based on the surviving fragment. Its date is associated with two quintets for two violins, two violas and violoncello from 1787, K. 515 and K. 516 respectively. Mozart visited Prague on two occasions during this year, first in February and then again in October for the famous premiere of his opera "Don Giovanni" at the Theatre of the Estates. This was a fortuitous period in the composer`s life. The fragment could be conceived as an effective sketch for the famous clarinet quintet K. 581, particularly if we consider the unique way in which Mozart uses his favourite instrument, the concertante clarinet.
     The initial letter "L" of the anonymous writer points to further research undertaken to try to discover the authorship of the enchanting Variations in B flat major for clarinet and three basset horns. The manuscript parts originated in the archives of prince Clam?Gallas and the work could be dated around the year 1800. The work on this recording is performed in its new guise for different instruments (arranged by J. Krejčí) where the original accompanying basset horns are replaced by string instruments (violin, viola and violoncello). This version is based on research carried out by Czech scholar and clarinetist professor Jiří Kratochvíl who arranged and revised the work of this anonymous composer for clarinet and piano (see the foreword to the first edition published by Supraphon in 1975). The tried and tested chamber combination employing string instruments allows for the clarinet`s sound to become well established and, in view of the singular use of the basset horns, it also encourages more frequent performance on concert podiums.
     The aim of using period instruments for this recording is to afford the interpreted works the most authentic sound possible. We know that the construction and thus also the technical potential of wind instruments, in particular, underwent considerable change during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. However, the timbre and characteristic sound of period instruments is unique. We can reliably say that, despite the numerous problems which arise when performing on these instruments (technical and intonational imperfection), themusical essence of the interpreted works can be achieved to greater effect, thus the musical content acquires a different quality.

Jiří Krejčí, Milevsko, August 1996

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