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Mozart and Thuille – quintets for piano and wind

September 17, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Pavlova Winds, with Malcolm Pearce piano, present:

Mozart Quintet for piano and winds

Thuille Sextet for piano and winds

Programme Notes

Mozart writing to his father Leopold “I consider it the best work I have ever written…”
The Quintet was first presented on April 1, 1784, as part of a mammoth concert of Mozart’s works entirely new or new to Vienna, in the capital’s Burgtheater. The playbill listed a “Symphony with Trumpets and Drums” (probably the “Haffner,” K. 385), a Piano Concerto (K. 451); the “Linz” Symphony; a group of piano improvisations by Mozart; and another symphony, possibly the “Paris” (K. 297) of 1778, not previously heard in Vienna.
K. 452 is in the three movements of a concerto. The first movement is brief, with a slow, sonorous introduction, in which each of the five players is allowed to strut his/her stuff, with a powerful concluding wind tutti over the piano. A gratifying surprise comes after only 20-odd measures have passed with the succeeding allegro, a tour-de-force of variety and inspiration, each wind allotted its brief theme – with such a mixed ensemble Mozart had no choice but to keep the individual statements as compact as possible – and the piano as partner rather than master, the instruments presented in pairs, in combinations of three, four, and five. While the key of B-flat is in Mozart usually a vehicle for frivolous thoughts, in the second movement of K. 452 it is employed to convey a sadly sweet mellowness. The thematically rich rondo finale is the longest movement of the three, crowned by a long cadenza for all five instruments.
That Mozart worked assiduously at getting this “study” right is affirmed by the extensive sketches that exist for the first movement, examples of reworking hardly being common among the composer’s works. The impression of ease and spontaneity – certainly present here – is not always easily achieved, even by Mozart.


Thuille was born in Bozen, Tyrol in the western part of Austria now known as Bolzano, Italy. Although he was left orphaned when his father passed away in 1876, his education was secured by a wealthy widow of the composer and conductor Mathius Nagiller. This education allowed him to meet and work with Richard Strauss, who became his good friend. Strauss even dedicated his tone poem, Don Juan, to Thuille. Thuille was part of the “Munich School” of composers, which included Max Schillings and Strauss whom were a significant part of the cultural life in Munich.
Although he composed many operas, concert music and chamber music, Thuille really had his heart set on teaching. He taught theory and composition at the Königliche Musikschule in Munich. He also collaborated with Louis Rudolph to write a harmony textbook known as the Harmonielehre (1902) which was a standard textbook even after his death.
The Sextet Op 6, was written between 1885 and 1887 and is considered one of his best known works. The piece was premiered at the Wiesbaden Festival in 1889 with Thuille playing the demanding piano part himself. Since the piece turned out to be a success, Strauss suggested that he should submit it for the prestigious Beethoven Award for Composition in Vienna in 1901. Although he did not win the award the sextet was still highly recognized for its virtuosity and brilliance.
This piece is very romantic in style with a Brahmsian flair especially in the keyboard. It interweaves the instruments with melodic passages that overlap each other creating constant color and textural changes as the piece progresses. It contrasts from stately passages of the first movement to the dance feel of the third and from the intense emotional melodies of the second to light fast paced playful ones in the fourth.
Dedicated to his wife Emma Dierl.

Peter Robertson flute
Alison Street oboe
Barbara Stuart clarinet
Jenny Steele horn
Simon Payne bassoon
Malcolm Pearce piano


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September 17, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


St Nicolas’ Church
Abingdon Oxon OX14 3HF United Kingdom + Google Map
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Abbey Chamber Concerts
07775 904626
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