Beethoven: Sparks of Joy – Wind Quintet, Op. 16
Beethoven composed his delectable Opus 16 Wind Quintet in 1796, when he was riding a wave of public acclaim as a keyboard virtuoso and improviser. It’s likely that he modeled it on Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat, K. 452, also scored for piano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn, which had been composed twelve years earlier.
There’s a delightful anecdote related by Ferdinand Ries about an 1804 performance of the Quintet, at which the ever-impish Beethoven suddenly began to improvise on the Rondo theme, amusing himself and the audience but quite annoying the other musicians, as they were constantly raising their instruments when they expected to resume playing, only to have to put them down again. When Beethoven finally returned to the Rondo, the audience was transported with delight.
This is a superb performance by Klára Würtz and the Netherlands Wind Soloists. [Notes by Margaret Scialdone.]