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ClarinetThe experience of conducting the first movement of Mozart’s twenty-fifth symphony was a humbling one. Even more humbling was to hear Stanley Drucker play Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major last night. The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra provided an outstanding accompaniment and a silk smooth blend of orchestra and soloist was provided by Maestro Sidney Rothstein. Prior to the solo the orchestra performed Mozart’s Overture to Così fan tutte and afterwards his Symphony No. 36 (Linz) in C. It was an extraordinary evening.
The concert was the Ridgefield Symphony’s third in the "Marvelous Mozart" series. It is performed at the Ridgefield Playhouse. The acoustics are excellent. Stanley Drucker told me at a reception later that he doesn’t often get to hear the sound of his clarinet so clearly because he typically plays in very large symphony halls. "Typically plays" is an understatement. Stanley Drucker has been the principal clarinetist for the New York Philharmonic for more than fifty years! He is truly a living legend! In 1998 he was named Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year. He has made more than 150 solo appearances with the Philharmonic since joining it at age 19.
The Clarinet Concerto is considered to be one of Mozart’s finest works and is one of the last he composed. Mr. Drucker surely plays it better than anyone ever has. I marveled at the tempo he sustained. He told me that it was a very difficult piece and that many of Mozart’s works are much more complicated to perform than may meet the eye. That made me feel good because I have played the Mozart concerto many times myself and never mastered it. I haven’t tried it for more than forty years but I recalled each movement as Stanley played it. He is truly remarkable. We both began clarinet studies at age ten. At age sixteen, when I had reached my peak, Stanley was appointed Principal Clarinetist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
The Overture to Cosi fan tutte was also sentimental. I once saw the full opera performed at the Volksoper in Vienna. The overture is great by itself but to have the chance to see and hear the entire work was a great privilege. I can not do justice to describing the brilliance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but there are many biographies that have done so. I can just say that he has been my favorite composer for as long as I can remember.
In his short thirty five years (1756-1791), Mozart composed more than 600 works. You can see them all in a list of his works which was generated from a database that is still being revised. The list follows a numbering scheme devised by Köchel. That is where the "K" comes from identifying Mozart’s compositions. For example, The Hague Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major, K22 was composed in 1765 when Mozart was nine years old. The Concerto for Clarinet in A Major, K622 was composed in Vienna in 1791 shortly before Mozart’s death.