52 pages | 23 x 30,5 cm | 207 g | ISMN: 979-0-004-18160-7 | Saddle Stitch
The piano version of the B flat major Quintet Op. 34 prepared by Carl Maria von Weber himself will no doubt cause some surprise among clarinetists as well. To this day few people know that the composer arranged his work for clarinet and piano as soon as he heard about the success of the original scoring. Weber, himself a talented pianist, transposed the string quartet sound to the piano in an effortless and very idiomatic manner. In Weber's version for clarinet and piano, the Quintet proves to be just as suitable for concert performance as for the rehearsing of the original chamber setting. Ulrich Leisinger's source studies show that Weber very carefully followed the publication of the first edition in 1816. Divergences from the quintet version (EB 5830) are indicated in the new edition.
|2. Fantasia: Adagio ma non troppo|
|3. Menuetto: Capriccio presto|
|4. Rondo: Allegro giocoso|
Few genres of instrumental chamber music have inspired composers to such an extent as the quintet for clarinet and string quartet. Considering the modest number of works in this scoring, it is remarkable that one finds no less than four works of timeless value in the quintets of Mozart, Weber, Brahms and Reger.
Unlike the two concertos and the Concertino for clarinet and orchestra Op. 26, the Quintet Op. 34 is one of the works by Carl Maria von Weber that do not owe their genesis to a commission, but to an inner urge. However, owing to the many duties weighing upon the young composer and conductor during his “journeyman’s” years, it took him nearly four years to write the work. The first diary entry referring to the work dates from 14 September 1811 and reads: “Began to write the quintet for Bärmann.” It proves that from the very start, Weber had intended the work for the clarinet virtuoso Heinrich Bärmann, whom he had met in Darmstadt during the spring of that year. Weber sent the composition – or at least the movements that were finished at that time – to Bärmann for his thirtieth birthday on 23 April 1814. The Rondo was still missing and was written in one surge of creativity in Munich between 21 and 25 August 1815, since it was scheduled to be performed by Bärmann for the first time in public the next day. The Quintet was published the following year and began its triumphal entry into the repertoire.
The work’s success prompted the composer to offer a version for clarinet and piano which, amazingly, is little known today even though it is a worthy counterpart to the beloved Grand Duo Concertant Op. 48. Perhaps the reason for this neglect lies in the understandable reluctance of present-day musicians to perform arrangements; however, one will hardly do justice to Weber’s own adaptation of the piece if one merely considers it as a piano reduction of the string quartet parts. Weber, himself a pianist, managed to preserve the entire substance of the original composition and adapt it congenially to the piano in such a way that – save perhaps for the opening measures of the first movement, with their sustained string chords – one hardly notices that this is not the original concept. In Weber’s own version for clarinet and piano, the Quintet proves to be suitable both for the study of the work as well as for concert performance.
This new edition is based primarily on the original printed edition published in Berlin by A. M. Schlesinger not long after the quintet version, which was issued in July 1816. Indeed, Schlesinger did not even have the title page and clarinet part newly engraved, but took them unchanged from the quintet version. The most important source of comparison for our edition was the autograph of the piano part, which is located today in the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Collection of the Library of Congress in Washington. Entries in this manuscript show that it was used as the engraver’s direct model. The composer decided against writing out the clarinet part again, referring simply to the quintet version.
The following sources were also consulted for purposes of comparison: the complete autograph of the quintet version (today in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin); a fair copy of all four movements with entries by Weber (partly in Washington, partly in Berlin) as well as the original print of the parts in the new edition allegedly revised and authorized by the composer. Later editions of the Quintet, e.g. the adaptation by Carl Bärmann, the son of the dedicatee, were also consulted, but had no bearing on the music text.
When considering the discrepancies between the autograph and the original print of the quintet version, a comparison of all the sources makes it clear that the divergent readings which have yet to be satisfactorily explained were actually carried out with the composer’s knowledge and authorization, since most of them are also found in the autograph of the piano version. It would thus be wrong to rely exclusively upon the autographs. Weber apparently deemed it necessary to supply additional performance-practical information for the printing of the work, indications that were superfluous as long as the work was performed by the composer and its dedicatee. One should not underestimate the role of the clarinetist when the music text was laid down for publication, for in Weber’s day it was customary for the interpreter – indeed, it was even seen as his duty – to elaborate the work and infuse life into it. Seen in this light, even Carl Bärmann’s suggestions for embellishments, which go far beyond the text of the autograph, could be of interest to today’s musicians. We do not know, however, if his father, who was the first to play the work and for whom it was written, also made such far-reaching interventions.
The present edition thus faithfully follows the original printed piano version, whereby occasional errors contained therein have been corrected on the basis of the knowledge gained from the other sources. Footnotes refer to the few discrepancies in the music text between the piano and quintet versions, discrepancies apparently intended by the composer. With regard to the observation that Weber intervened in the sources at different times in order to specify certain details, it seemed legitimate to take into consideration the performance-practical indications found only in a few of the sources used for comparative purposes. The Critical Notes comment upon those passages which contain substantial divergences in articulation between the sources; in disputable cases, priority was given to the piano version as the latest extant version. The fact that the slurs are often of different lengths in the various sources (and that they are treated in a way that is anything but unequivocal and consistent even within one single source) and that the composer often varies the music at parallel passages for no apparent reason may be understood as a reminder that a certain interpretive spontaneity on the part of the musicians remains desirable today.
In spite of the many articulation markings, the dynamics that we would consider necessary today are missing at several passages, including at the beginning of the Minuet, where a dynamic contrast between the clarinet and strings, as well as between the clarinet and piano, is indicated only in the first measures. Measures 7 and 8 are apparently only to be played piano; it remains unclear whether the clarinetist should unwaveringly play forte in measures 5 and 6, or whether he should adjust his dynamics to those of the ensemble. Likewise, in the Rondo the dynamic marking of the clarinet part is consistently missing at the entrance of the principal theme. Since the following dynamic marking is generally forte, the clarinet must play softly at the beginning of the movement, but perhaps a touch louder than the accompanying parts. Finally, several notational peculiarities of Weber’s should be pointed out: dotted rests, just like double dots at notes, were not in general use in Weber’s day. Thus at certain passages, the context requires dots, even though they are not expressly notated. Weber regularly contents himself with one accent in the piano part, even though it clearly applies to both hands. We have retained the original indications Tutti and Solo, which Weber inserted into the piano version in order to remind the pianist when he should take the lead more forcefully or, in his role as accompanist, hold back in favor of the clarinetist. While Weber generally notates appoggiaturas as eighth notes with a stroke across the stem (see for example movement 4, mm. 163ff.), these are consistently reproduced as small sixteenth notes in the Schlesinger print. At divergences between the autograph and the print in the notation of appoggiaturas and “Nachschläge,” or termination notes, priority is given to the reading of the autograph.
We wish to extend our most cordial thanks to the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and the Library of Congress for putting copies of the sources at our disposal and for graciously allowing us to reprint the work.
Leipzig, August 2001