Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Overture: 'The Magic Flute'
(arranged for wind quintet by Joachim Linckelmann)

Mozart was engaged on The Magic Flute from March until July 1791, and again in September of that year. On 30 September, two months before his death, the first performance was given. The Overture was composed at the end of Mozart's work on the opera, and, according to Soyfried, reached the musicians' stands on the day of the dress rehearsal "with the ink still wet".

The slow, purposefully vague introduction, reflecting the traditional description of chaos, is abruptly succeeded by a straightforward rhythmic fugue. This embodies a regular exposition and first development section, leading into the dominant key. This in turn is followed by a second development section which is very different from the first because of its tormented harmony and incessant modulations. The thematic work is then tightened in the stretto section, before the recapitulation and concluding coda are presented.

Being fugal in nature, a highly thorough treatment of the work's thematic material is evident, notably with the subject that opens the Allegro section. This material was supposedly borrowed from a sonata by Clementi (op. 43, no. 2 in B flat). The subject occurs throughout the sonata in its original form as a series of imitative entries and as the basis of sequential movement.

This arrangement of the Overture uses the wind quintet scoring as conceived in the early nineteenth century by the Franco-Czech composer Anton Reicha. It fittingly portrays the quintet as a combination of instruments with great timbral variety and diversity. Each instrument is given due prominence and independence, and, therefore, each is of equal importance. AJM

© 1996 The Arethusa Ensemble