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The Consort

David J Golby

Summer 2008, Vol 64

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Symphony no. 40 in G minor K550
arr. Muzio Clementi, for flute, violin, cello and piano

Edition HH173.FSP, Bicester, 2006
(pbk £32)
ISMN M 708059 25 7

available from Schott & Co.

This is a very welcome and fascinating addition to Edition HH’s enterprising ‘@MOZART’ series, created, as they put it, ‘around Mozart’ and inspired by Christopher Hogwood, who has edited many of the initial volumes. Aware of and intrigued by the existence of Clementi’s arrangements of the six late Mozart symphonies since my student days, I am delighted to see, at last, a scholarly performing edition of one of them appear in print.

Muzio Clementi’s admiration of Mozart may not have been reciprocated, but these arrangements, published in London, probably in 1824, are a small indication of how the ltalian’s admiration bore fruit. They also offer an insight into his undoubted commercial acumen: he did, after all, manage to negotiate the rights to Beethoven’s music. Chappell & Co had already published Hummel’s arrangements for the same combination of instruments, and other arrangements of the same works were due to be published in London soon afterwards, but there was a certain distinction associated with Clementi’s name, particularly in London. The new legato style which he cultivated, while retaining an all-important classical, retrospective restraint, and a fondness for erudite styles of counterpoint, had carried him many admirers. As some indication of his sustained popularity, by 1826 he was publishing the 11th edition of his Introduction to the art of playing on the pianoforte (first published in 1801). An astute and committed pedagogue, he influenced many generations of pianists, not least through his pupil and apprentice John Field, and he continues to have relevance to modern teaching methods.

Hogwood is, of course, ideally placed to produce highly appealing performing editions which unite and balance scholarship and performance, text and act. His enormous experience and expertise in this area have been utilised to great effect here. Clementi’s approach to arranging is, naturally, to place the piano very much to the fore, with the flute, violin and cello primarily used to double the keyboard lines. That said, there are passages where the flute or violin play an essential phrase not found in the piano part, and keyboard textures tend to be lighter than those commonly employed by Hummel, for example.

There is a potential pitfall with adaptations such as this, where unquestionably great music appears in a different form via a third party, that such arrangements have little more than novelty value, and are valuable solely in the context of informal, predominantly amateur music-making. ‘So be it’ may well be an appropriate response to such an accusation; but, if further justification were required, I think there is much to promote this edition beyond the novel. Not least, this edition could serve as an effective piano reduction of the symphony for a moderately accomplished player, as well as being a lesson in the effective reduction of an orchestral texture into the context of chamber music. This is a very appealing and effective instrumental combination, which has been under-used since the 19th century, and the work would merit, not least in educational circles, study and performance in its intended form in a whole range of contexts, particularly, as Hogwood suggests, if period instruments were employed. Hogwood’s consistently noninterventionist editorial approach is evident in his use of the autograph score (now in the library of the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia, Rome). There is no question of the integrity of the methodology adopted in relation to the primary sources. He is careful to include the two passages which differ from the eventual printed version, together with the extra eight bars of Andante which appeared in all early editions of this work (as a result of the widespread reliance on the 1810 Cianchettini & Sperati publication). Likewise, inconsistencies in the autograph are preserved, including the varied phrasing of the opening theme of the first movement. Also, dashes and dots from the original edition are retained (including when both symbols occur simultaneously in different parts), even though the evidence suggests that Clementi did not differentiate between them in his autograph, and so no distinction is intended in performance.

As we’ve come to expect from Edition HH, there are excellent introductory notes by Hogwood, including a translation into German, and very helpful and relevant suggestions for metronome markings, guidance on the handling of repeats, and a facsimile of the first page of Clementi’s manuscript. Detailed textual notes are also included. The presentation is very clear and uncluttered, with careful consideration given to the position of page turns and the use of cues. Once again, congratulations to the publisher for continuing to issue first rate editions of neglected works which combine genuine historical significance with a range of possible practical applications.

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