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Mozart composed many wind serenades for aristocratic entertainment. However, his greatest work for winds, the ‘Gran Partita’, was written only after he had left Salzburg and settled in Vienna. And at its heart is the great Adagio. Hearing it, in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, Mozart’s rival Salieri is sure that he is hearing the voice of God. ‘On the page it looked like nothing…Just a pulse – bassoons and basset-horns – like a rusty squeezebox. Then suddenly – high above it – an oboe, a single note, hanging there unwavering, till a clarinet took over and sweetened it into a phrase of such delight!’

Mozart’s love affair with wind instruments continued, and it is possible (and tempting) to imagine his Quintet being played by him and the artists for whom he wrote his Clarinet and Horn concertos. Written in 1784, before his greatest symphonies, concertos and operas, the Quintet was a source of great pride to Mozart, who told his father it was ‘the best thing I have done so far.’

Details are correct at time of publication

  • Mozart
    Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major, K.452
    Serenade in B flat major, K.361/370a ‘Gran Partita’
    Piano Sonata No.11 in A major, K.331/30