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Jan Zach (1699 - 1773), Jan Křtitel Vaňhal (1732 - 1813)
Music for Clarinets

 


F10092     [8595017409226]
TT - 52:19     released 9/1999

        Jan Zach: Sonata a tre Stromenti
      1. Andante   3:25
      2. Allegro moderato   3:09
      3. Andante   1:37
      4. Tempo di Minuetto   2:14
        Jan Křtitel Vaňhal: Six Trios pour deux Clarinettes et Baße, Op. 18
        Sonata in C major
      5. Adagio   0:47
      6. Allegro moderato   2:09
      7. Andante gratioso   2:00
      8. Allegretto moderato   2:33
        Sonata in F major
      9. Allegretto moderato (Comodo)   2:33
      10. Andantino   1:15
      11. Tempo di Minuetto   1:36
        Sonata in B flat major
      12. Allegro moderato   3:22
      13. Adagio   1:07
      14. Allegro moderato   2:59
        Sonata in G minor
      15. Allegretto moderato (Comodo)   3:15
      16. Andantino   1:55
      17. Allegretto moderato   1:45
        Sonata in C major
      18. Allegro (la Chasse)   2:26
      19. Andante gratioso   2:44
      20. Minuetto Moderato   0:54
        Sonata in F major
      21. Allegro moderato   3:11
      22. Andante gratioso   1:33
      23. Presto   2:49

Jiří Krejčí - clarinet by Wenzel Horak, Praha (after 1800)
Luigi Magistrelli - clarinet, anonymous, Bohemia (c. 1840)
Petr Hejný - cello by Peregrino Zanetto, Bresciae 1531
          a = 428 Hz

With the advent of the youngest of the woodwinds, the clarinet, music obtained a pastoral timbre that resonated suitably with the melodious phrases of the music of eighteenth-century Czech composers. 
     The pairing of wind instruments — in this case clarinets — had been highly popular since the Baroque, and we find it, for instance, in the work of Vivaldi, Rameau, and, later, in the double concerti of Carl Stamitz and František Vincenc Kramář (Krommer).
     The Czech composer Jan Zach represents the transition from the Late Baroque to Early Classical. A considerable part of his work is church music, and the probing nature of the composer is particularly apparent here. Though he lived for a long time in Germany and frequently visited Italy, it is the purely Czech melodiousness that makes his music distinctive.
     The trio sonata, which has been preserved only in manuscript copies found at the castle of Duchcov in north Bohemia, bears the title Sonata a tre Stromenti Del Sign. Giovanni Zach detto Il Boemo (cf. the Musica Antiqua Bohemica edition, 1951). This suggests that in its performance it was possible to use other instruments apart from strings, as had been the custom in trio sonatas of that time. The impetus for the arrangement for two clarinets and basso lay in the sonatas Op. 18 by Jan Křtitel Vaňhal, written for this combination of instruments. The Sonata a tre Stromenti has four short movements in which a slow tempo alternates with quicker one in a basic major key, with the exception of the slower third movement, which is in a minor key. Stylistically it is a forerunner of all Vanhal's six sonatas and also allows for a comparison of the differences and connections in the musical thinking of the two composers.
     In the clarinet literature Jan Křtitel Vaňhal is known mainly for his sonatas for piano and clarinet, whose informal movements contain suggestions of early Romanticism. The clarinet, which in the Romantic period came to enjoy its greatest efflorescence, found favour also among Czech composers who were living abroad. This is evident in the numerous chamber works using this instrument in concerts, including Vanhal's concert for clarinet and orchestra. Vanhal's life was not easy, and as one of the first independent composers he, too, was forced to conform to the performance conventions of his day. He strove to see his compositions widely played, which is why we see a frequent change of instruments here. The sonatas for piano and clarinet were, for instance, also intended for violin or viola. Stylistically Vanhal's work is not unified, and apart from influences of the Late Baroque and the Style Galant, it contains pre-Romantic elements. Regular features of Vaňhal's work, however, include the attempt to achieve honest composition and the continuous presence of Czech music.
     Trio Sonatas Opus 18 was published in Paris c. 1780 in two versions — one for clarinet, bassoon, and basso, and the other for two clarinets and basso. On our recording two clarinets are heard together with a cello playing the basso. The bassoon and the clarinet rarely traded places in the Classical period, and evidently here the composer had in mind the basson (a more subtle version of the French bassoon) as is stated in the title of the composition. Formally speaking, the trios comprise a set of six sonatas with an Adagio introduction, as was the widespread custom in the Classical style. Each of the sonatas has three movements, in which the introductory one is more lively (Allegro moderato) and after shorter, less formal movements there always follows a dance form of music in three-four time, with the exception of the concluding Presto. This is background chamber music that could be listened to outdoors, and it is quite possible that it was even composed for this purpose (note, for instance, the huntsman's march and the tunes of the Czech folk pastoral in the fifth sonata).
     As in the sonata by Jan Zach, here, too, the sound of the unique combination of instruments is enhanced by the use of authentic period instruments.

Jiří Krejčí

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