The Vivaldi Project with Clarinetist Dominic Giardino
The Clarinet Quartet: Another untold part of chamber music history
The Vivaldi Project 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 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 Bb and Eb 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.
Historical clarinetist Dominic Giardino enjoys a varied professional life exploring the intersections of history and performance. Dominic was first introduced to historically informed performance through the lens of 19th-century band music with Newberry’s Victorian Cornet Band in 2013. Since then, he has performed with a variety of ensembles specializing in HIP in the U.S. including the Smithsonian Chamber Players, the Oregon Bach Festival Period Orchestra, Teatro Nuovo, and Three Notch’d Road: The Virginia Baroque Ensemble. In addition to freelancing, Dominic is a musician with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation where he develops programming centered on concert culture in British America and the Early Republic. He is currently the executive director of Arizona Early Music and serves on the board of Early Music America. Dominic earned his B.M. at the Eastman School of Music and his M.M. as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in The Hague where he studied historical clarinets and chalumeaux with Eric Hoeprich.
Praised for its brilliant and expressive playing, The Vivaldi Project, co-directed by Elizabeth Field and Stephanie Vial, is dedicated to presenting innovative pro-grams of Baroque and Classical string repertoire that combine scholarship and performance both to educate and delight audiences. The period instrument ensemble takes its name from the virtuoso violinist and innovative composer Antonio Vivaldi, recognizing his pivotal position between earlier Baroque and later Classical composers. Since it was founded by Field in 2006, The Vivaldi Project has performed throughout the country, including live performances and interviews for Washington’s WETA, North Carolina’s WCPE and WUNC, WBAA, and Minnesota Public Radio. The Vivaldi Project’s educational arm, the Institute for Early Music on Modern Instruments (EMMI), offers professional string players and advanced students the opportunity to study historical performance practices using their own modern instruments. The Vivaldi Project has produced numerous videos and led workshops and residencies at conservatories and musical institutions around the country, including the Boston Conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music, Duke and Vanderbilt Universities, as well as UVA, UNC-CH and UNCG. Their recording series, Discovering The Classical String Trio, three volumes strong with a fourth on its way, can be heard on radio stations around the world. www.thevivaldiproject.org
Violinist Elizabeth Field, distinguished for her passionate and stylistic playing on both period and modern instruments, is the founder of The Vivaldi Project. Field is concertmaster of The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and has performed with a wide variety of ensembles throughout the US: from Washington DC’s acclaimed Opera Lafayette to the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, with whom she recorded regularly for Deutsche Grammophon. On period instruments she has recorded for Hungaroton, Naxos, and Dorian. She has held professorships at Sacramento State University and the University of California at Davis and has given master classes at universities across the country, including regular visits to The Curtis Institute. Field holds a DMA from Cornell University in 18th-century performance practice and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University. Her DVD with fortepianist Malcolm Bilson, Performing the Score, explores 18th-century violin/piano repertoire and has been hailed by Emanuel Ax as both “truly inspiring” and “authoritative.”