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Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Composer

Concert Piece in D- for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano, Op.114

Performances: 5
Tracks: 13
  • Concert Piece in D- for Clarinet, Bassoon, and Piano, Op.114
    Key: D-
    Year: 1883
    Genre: Other Chamber
    Pr. Instruments: Clarinet & Bassoon
    • 1.Presto
    • 2.Andante
    • 3.Allegretto grazioso
Mendelssohn was good friends with the skilled German clarinetist Heinrich Joseph Baermann and his son Carl Baermann, a fine clarinetist in his own right. It was a friendship built not only from shared musical interests and compatible personalities but also from the Baermanns' masterful skill as dumpling chefs—Mendelssohn could never resist a well-made dumpling! Around Christmas 1832, the Baermanns were in Berlin (then Mendelssohn's home) for a series of performances, and Mendelssohn invited them over for an evening of dumplings. The Baermanns insisted on remuneration in the form of a piece of music for father and son to play together; thus Mendelssohn's Concert Piece No. 1 in F major for clarinet, basset horn, and piano, Op. 113. The exchange—dumplings and strudel for music—was so successful and made both parties so happy that it was repeated a little while later: thus, more dumplings for Felix and the Concert Piece No. 2 in D minor for clarinet, basset horn, and piano, Op. 114 (January 1833), for the Baermanns!

Mendelssohn orchestrated the accompaniment of Op. 113 himself, but never got around to doing the same for Op. 114. He did, however, authorize the Baermanns to do it themselves (as he authorized them, in fact, to alter the solo parts in whatever manner and to whatever extent they wished), and so one will hear the Concert Piece No. 2 played by two soloists and orchestra as well as two soloists and piano. Aside from instrumentation, the only difference between the two versions is that the Baermann-orchestrated version starts with a newly-composed (also badly-composed, one might add!) four-bar introduction not present in Mendelssohn's original.

Mendelssohn didn't think too highly of the Concert Pieces. They serve their purpose: light, soloistic fare for two woodwind players, utterly without profundity but quite pleasing to the ear when played well. Op. 114 is built from three separate sections of music. The first is a Presto that unfolds in dramatic unison thrusts from soloists and tutti and then proceeds to consider thoughtful lyric ideas and bold, marked gestures in equal amounts. The central portion of music is an Andante in which the two woodwind players take turns spinning silken sixteenth notes around each other. Last up is a lighthearted Allegro grazioso that moves from D minor to F major; the piano bops along steadily as the two soloists whirl around.

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