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Nachtmusik für Liebhaber

  • St John's Church Spencer Hill London, SW19 4PA United Kingdom (map)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)
arr. anon (1810) rev. Percival
Grand Sonate Pathétique
i. Grave; Allegro di molto con brio - ii. Adagio cantabile - iii. Rondo: Allegro

The title, literally “full of pathos”, was added by the first publisher in 1799. A version for 9-part harmonie was issued by one of Beethoven’s favoured publishers in 1810, and contains some startling changes. Robert has re-worked this for 6 players, aiming to restore some of the intimacy of the original.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
arr. Johann Christian Stumpf (1763 - 1801)
Figaro in Harmonie (extracts)
i. Duettino, Susanna & Figaro: Cinquedieceiventi(Fivetentwenty)
ii. Duettino, Susanna & Figaro: Se a caso madama (If at night my lady should require you)
iii. Aria, Cherubino: Non so più cosa son (I dont know what I am, what Im doing)
iv. Aria, The Countess: Dovo sono (Where are they now, the happy moments of sweetness and of pleasure?)
v. Duettino, Susanna & The Countess: Che soave zeffiretto (How gentle the breeze)
vi. Act III Finale: Ecco la marcia, andiamo (Theres the march. Lets get going.)
 ... Chorus: Amanti costanti (Come all faithful lovers)

100s of arrangements of popular numbers from opera provided the mainstay of harmoniemusik and Stumpf’s work is typical. A bassoonist working in Frankfurt, he published versions of 11 operas in 20 volumes, but his extensive Figaro set (18 numbers in total) exists only in manuscript.


Franz Krommer (1759 - 1831)
arr. Václav Havel (c.1778 - post 1826)
Partita op.57 in F
iii. Adagio; Andante

During his lifetime Krommer was one of the most widely disseminated and performed composers in Europe. The original version of this Partita has oboes and contrabassoon, but as these weren’t part of Havel’s harmonie he made his own version that omitted them: a common practice at the time!


Ludwig van Beethoven
Trio in C op.87
ii. Adagio

Despite the opus number, one of Beethoven’s earliest pieces, originally for 2 oboes and cor anglais, but issued in versions for instruments by various publishers hoping to cash in on the composer’s popularity.


John Croft (b. 1971)
une autre voix qui chante
(world premiere performance)

Composers in the second half of the twentieth century, such as Messiaen, Boulez, and Stockhausen, were fascinated by the idea of linking each pitch with a particular tone colour. But in the natural horn the intimate connection between pitch and timbre is inherent – each note is more or less transformed in sound by the use of the right hand – any note you play automatically has its associated colour. As the great nineteenth-century horn player Jacques-François Gallay writes, there is in the natural horn ’another singing voice’ alongside the sound of the ‘open’ notes obtainable without the hand. But these open notes are also fascinating – most them are ‘out of tune’ with our familiar scales. This piece makes use of both these ‘out-of-tune’ notes – which are entirely in tune with the natural harmonic series – and the colours imparted by different degrees of hand-stopping. One could say that the piece seeks to connect the ‘nature’ of the untempered harmonic series with the ‘culture’ of Gallay’s ‘other’ singing voice. John Croft


Carl Jacobi (1791 - 1852)
Duet op.5 no.2
ii. Andante sostenuto

Another bassoonist, described as the finest in Germany, who became a conductor later in life. His compositions are all for his own instrument, including concertos and a wonderful quartet with strings.


Johann Stamitz (1717 - 1757)
2 Adagios for 2 clarinets & 2 horns
Some of the earliest music featuring the clarinet, these are the sort of pieces that were performed at the Georgian London pleasure gardens to serenade promenading patrons, including the young Mozart. 


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Serenade in Eb K.375
iii. Adagio

At eleven o'clock at night I was treated to a serenade performed by two clarinets, two horns and two bassoons - and that of myown composition…’ Mozart, in a letter to his father, 3rd November 1781


Ludwig van Beethoven
arr. Carl Czerny (1791 - 1857)
Septet in Eb op.20
ii. Adagio

Beethoven’s pupil arranged his master’s most popular work at the age of only 14. Whether it was intended only as an exercise is unclear, but it has remained unpublished and unperformed until now.

Notes © Boxwood and Brass, and John Croft

Earlier Event: November 24
Vienna by Arrangement
Later Event: May 6
Wednesday Afternoons Music