The Mozart Clarinet Concerto (K. 622) is one of those iconic works that all clarinetists learn as students, study throughout their playing career, and always find new expression and joy in its performance.  One of the last works Mozart completed, it was written for Anton Stadler at a time when the clarinet was still an evolving instrument.  The clarinet Stadler used and for which the piece was written would have been based on the 5 key clarinet at the time, but his was customized for an extended lower range by two tones (from e to c).   Even then, at the premiere there was controversy about Mozart writing for the extended instrument.

The concerto score wasn’t published until after Mozart’s death.  The published version was edited (sometimes poorly) with octave shifts to work with the standard clarinet range for the obvious improved performance utility.  Stadler, who had possession of the autograph of the work (its not clear if it was gifted or acquired through nefarious means) pawned the manuscript prior to its publication, losing the original version forever.  It wasn’t until recently, during the late 20th century, that these facts came to light allowing music historians to “recreate” the original intent, correcting the contours of the music to avoid some of the awkward non-Mozart construction of the edited version.
While modern extended range “basset-clarinets” have been manufactured for the express purpose of performing the concerto (and a handful of other Mozart era works), newly edited versions of the concerto have been released to better map to the modern clarinet range.  For this performance, I have taken concepts from two of these edited versions as well as some of my own modifications to create the version I will perform with the Philharmonic.  Given that the premiere of the work was late in the year in 1791 and its critical review released not until January of the following year, it seems very appropriate to include it in our December performance!

 

Alex Jones has a B.A. in clarinet performance from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is currently the Principal clarinetist of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic. He has also played clarinet and Eb clarinet for the Edgewood Symphony and the University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Prior to his time in Pittsburgh, he was Principal clarinet of the Northwestern Philharmonia and Summer Orchestras in Evanston Illinois, the Principal clarinetist for the Sinfonicron Light Opera Orchestra in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was the Principal clarinetist in the All Virginia Honors Orchestra in 1994, and a member of the Virginia All District XII honors bands from 1991-1993, and the Principal player in 1993.
He has been an invited featured soloist for the Pittsburgh Philharmonic, Northwestern Philharmonia Orchestra, University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the William and Mary Symphony Orchestra. He also received the John Philip Sousa Award.
As a chamber musician, he is currently the clarinetist of the Aeolian Winds of Pittsburgh. In 2006 he founded the Morningside Trio (clarinet, cello, and piano). He has also performed with a variety of ensembles in Virginia and Illinois and recently toured with players from the Roanoke Symphony. Alex Jones has a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northwestern University and is currently a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Director of Computer Engineering, and MCSI Sustainability Faculty Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.

Come hear Alex December 1st and 3rd at Holiday Pops.

Learn more and purchase tickets here.