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Louis Spohr

Louis Spohr Composer

Nonet, for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and double bass, in F, Op.31

Performances: 6
Tracks: 21
  • Nonet, for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello and double bass, in F, Op.31
    Key: F
    Year: 1813
    Genre: Other Chamber
    Pr. Instrument: Flute
    • 1.Allegro
    • 2.Scherzo: Allegro
    • 3.Adagio
    • 4.Finale: Vivace
The wealthy Viennese cloth manufacturer Johann von Tost, for whom Haydn had written several string quartets, was happy to subsidize good composers, though under unusual conditions. He made an agreement with Louis Spohr that, in return for a stipend, everything that Spohr wrote during his stay in Vienna would be regarded as Tost's property for three years, and could be played only in his presence during that period. After that, Tost would return the manuscripts to Spohr for him to publish and perform as he wished. The first result of that relationship was a nonet, scored essentially for wind quintet and string quartet (with a double bass instead of a second violin).

The first movement, Allegro, revolves largely around the placid melody played at the very beginning by the violin, which is soon picked up by the various woodwind instruments. A second subject, similarly passed through the ensemble, is a short, lyrical phrase over a rolling accompaniment. Spohr subjects these fragmentary motifs to a short but characterful development dominated by the woodwinds, with the strings relegated to a mainly supporting role. The straightforward recapitulation is more extensive than the development.

The Scherzo begins with a whiff of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, full of grumbling in the double bass. But this quickly turns into a melody that manages to be simultaneously spry and easygoing. Again, this is wind-dominated music, but the violin holds forth in the first trio, a greatly smoothed-out Ländler. Spohr then takes the Scherzo from the top, except that the new, second trio is a downward-snaking clarinet melody echoed by other individual winds. Typically, the movement is capped by the original Scherzo material.

The Adagio, initially for strings alone and then ceding to the winds, borrows the first movement's opening motif. This is now combined with song-like material introduced by the violin, passed to the oboe, and then distributed among the other instruments.

The final section, Vivace, is a cheerful sonata movement dominated by a perky figure that rises up the scale only to fall into a little swirl of notes below. There's no freestanding second subject, although the opening motif does have some mildly contrasting phrases built into it. The movement ends with a lively but compact finale.

© James Reel, All Music Guide
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