BEETHOVEN Ludwig van, Quintet for wind and piano in E flat Op.16

Grave. Allegro ma non troppo
Andante cantabile
Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo

Beethoven completed his Quintet for Piano and Wind in 1797, five years after his arrival in Vienna, taking Mozart’s quintet for the same instrumental combination as his model. It’s probably no coincidence that one of Beethoven’s closest friends – Nikolaus Zmeskall von Domanovecz – owned the autograph manuscript of Mozart’s work at the time. Yet despite some obvious parallels in terms of structure and even some of the thematic material, the Beethoven Quintet sounds very individual. As the Canadian musicologist Cliff Eisen has written: ‘Beethoven [remained] true to his own voice, some obvious modellings of his quintet on Mozart’s notwithstanding: their keys and unusual scoring are identical, and both begin with elaborate slow introductions. At 416 bars, however, the first movement of Beethoven’s quintet far exceeds Mozart’s in scale: as in so many of his chamber and solo works, Beethoven aspires to the symphonic, something that is alien to Mozart’s greater intimacy and concision.’

© Nigel Simeone

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