The younger generation in the Berliner Philharmoniker is performing chamber music: the Varian Fry Quartet, founded by four Philharmonic string players in the 2012/13 season, will receive support at this concert from Andreas Ottensamer, principal clarinettist of the orchestra since 2011. Of course, given this combination of instruments, no concert would be complete without Mozart’s famous Clarinet Quintet in A major K. 581, a piece the composer wrote for his friend Anton Stadler, one of the leading clarinettists of his day. One of Mozart’s themes, namely the mellifluous melody “Là ci darem la mano”, with which the rake Don Giovanni, in the opera of the same name, seduces the peasant girl Zerlina, served Danzi as the basis for a series of variations . Originally composed for clarinet and orchestra, they will be played here in an arrangement for clarinet and string quartet.
Beethoven’s String Quartet in E-flat major op. 74 also concludes with a cheerful set of variations. The composer wrote the piece in 1809, dedicating it to his patron, Prince Lobkowitz. Its nickname “Harp Quartet” did not originate with Beethoven, but comes from the broken chords played in pizzicato in the first movement, which are reminiscent of harp arpeggios. The programme ends by embarking on a musical journey to a completely different world: Maurice Ravel composed his first and only string quartet in 1902-03; the work completed his studies. The Frenchman considered the work, which is oriented towards Debussy, an important milestone en route to his own style.