Mozart – Clarinet Quintet in A major, K581

by richibi

there are several reasons for which Classical music
is called Classical, the word itself suggests a standard – 
austere, concise, clear, rigorously authoritative – nearly
like mathematics 
 
and such is the music of Mozart, and most others, even
into Romanticism
 
despite the flurry of iridescent notes filling vaults of
effervescent atmosphere, like the apparent serendipity
of so many flights of birds that describe music for us in
our own heavens, you’ll hear a tune, then another
constrasting one, then you’ll hear both of them all over
again, not much different from a song’s refrain and verse,
except that the verse is not new but like the refrain a
repetition 
 
both repetitions usually will have some embellishments,
and sometimes the repetitions are in a divergent order,
but the idea remains the same, you’ll always hear again
what you heard at the beginning no matter how far away
you’ve strayed
 
this foursquare structure is at the basis of music
 
nearly like mathematics
 
 
beat remains also essential, a peremptory component of
what it means to be music in the Classical Age, despite
the leeway now given by a revolutionary it would turn
out fortepiano  
 
Mozart doesn’t sway from the tempo he imposes on a
movement, does so even categorically, otherwise would
be louche, disruptive, in an age of order 
 
 
in the last movement of his Clarinet Quintet in A major,
however, K581, he has his way with that proscription by
making the movement a set of variations, which allow
him, of course, to on a theme display an array of melodic
options, irrelevant of coherence of pace, to test the
boundaries of what it means to be within the larger
musical structure one of its movements 
 
a path is thereby forged to a new understanding
 
 
he gives us also here another new invention, the
addition of a clarinet to the usually set quartet – two
violins, a viola and a cello – that was then the staple
of chamber music essentially 
 
nor can I think of an earlier Clarinet Quintet 
 
you’ll find this unassuming, usually more reclusive, 
wind instrument to be an utterly inspired addition
to even the most vaunted sounds of even this most
silken string quartet
 
 
Richard     
 
 
 
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