Mozart's Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano (the “Kegelstatt” Trio) in E-flat (K498) was written for, dedicated to and premiered with friends. In fact, the early 20th century musicologist Alfred Einstein notes, “a work of intimate friendship and love,” written to be enjoyed by friends playing together at home. And it was, in fact, premiered at a friend's home where weekly meetings were spent with diversions of discussion, games and music-making. Mozart played the viola part, one of his students the piano, and friend and virtuoso clarinetist Anton Stadler the clarinet; it was for Stadler that Mozart also composed his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Concerto.
By the way, the title “Kegelstatt” refers to a place to play skittles, an early form of bowling, which Mozart mentioned playing when he signed the score of this Trio for the publisher but the game had nothing more to do with this music. But somehow the title became attached.
The clarinet was fairly new at the time and no other composer had written for this combination of instruments. Mozart liked the clarinet's mellow tone and the deep and rich tones of the viola; combined, they created a mellow-voiced conversation with lyrical qualities. Clarinetists today owe a debt to Mozart. This Trio and the Quintet and Concerto he wrote for Stadler and his clarinet helped grow the popularity of the new instrument. Take a moment for musical friendship with Mozart's Trio this afternoon at 2:00pm on CapRadio Music.
January 20, 2022