José Luis Estellés
It has been common in the history of recording to combine the quintets for clarinet and strings by Mozart and Weber on a CD. Hardly surprising, as these two works represent the historical establishment of this instrumental combination as a chamber music archetype, used by other concurrent composers in their time and endorsed in successive epochs by such figures as Brahms, Reger, Hindemith, and so down to the most notable of today’s creators. But there are other reasons.
Today’s performers are grateful for and take example from the stimulation shared by these marvellous works: to a powerful mutual commitment between composer and player. In the complex case of Stadler, colleague of the composer in the Masonic lodge Zur Wohltätigkeit, a decisive contribution must be acknowledged (along with the clarinet-maker Theodor Lotz) to the development of the bass-klarinet, known as clarinet di bassetto. He might however also be blamed for the loss of the manuscripts for Mozart’s main works for clarinet such as this Quintet K581 and Concerto K622, obscure circumstances which enliven the enigmatic reality of the final moments of the life of the Salzburg genius, forcing us to interpret versions reconstructed from later editions and incomplete original outlines needing substantial doses of historical information. Although Mozart lived just six years following the birth of Carl Maria von Weber, the two were remotely related, by a variety of coincidences: the half-brother of Weber’s father Fridolin was the father of Constanze Weber, eventually married to Mozart, and of her sister Aloysia, with whom he fell in love first. Mozart met the Webers in Mannheim in 1777, but it was at their residence in Vienna, ‘Zum Auge Gottes’ (In the Eyes of God) where he once more encountered Constanze and her mother, a circumstance leading to the renowned marriage. It is most curious that, finally, the remains of Leopold rest in the Mozart tomb, surrounded by various members of the Weber family, but with no other Mozart.