The Brandenburg orchestrates A meeting of ‘beautiful minds’

Madeleine Easton

Judging by its popularity amongst listeners of ABC Classic FM as Australia’s most popular composition by Mozart, the Clarinet Concerto in A Major K.622  is listened to an awful lot. Some of these performances would be on a modern ‘liquorice stick’ clarinet, not the basset clarinet, which was the instrument of Mozart’s time for which he would have written the concerto.

The Brandenburg’s Principal Clarinet Craig Hill will be recreating the sounds that Mozart intended when he performs this dearly held concerto on a basset clarinet with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, directed by Paul Dyer, in their Beautiful Minds series this October.

The basset clarinet was longer, of a distinctly different shape and had more keys, enabling a wider range of notes. “The rediscovery of the type of clarinet Mozart himself knew is a musical detective story stretching back over 70 years,” says Craig Hill. “Since the 1940s many musicians became suspicious about the score – the clarinet part just didn’t sit right with the instrument we know today.”

These suspicions were confirmed, by the discovery in 1992, of concert programmes from the 1780s in which Anton Stadler had played a basset clarinet. Anton Stadler was a prominent clarinetist of the time, a friend of Mozart, and the person for whom Mozart wrote  the clarinet quintet K581 and concerto K622, both in A major. These archives, lying in a library in Riga showed an engraving of Stadler’s instrument. The engraving showed a long instrument ending in a right angle topped by a bulbous extension. On a beautiful new instrument made of boxwood, Craig made the world’s first recording of the clarinet concerto on a basset clarinet with the Brandenburg in 2001.

Engraving of basset clarinet

Joining the ensemble is the UK based Australian violinist Madeleine Easton performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3 in G Major K 216. Easton is an accomplished and highly sought after musician. In 2006 she was appointed Concertmaster of the Hanover Band.

Madeleine is in great demand both on modern & period violins, particularly as soloist & chamber musician. She has been a member and a guest principal with many of the major symphony and chamber orchestras in Australia. In London she regularly leads the London Musical Arts Ensemble, Orchestra Nova, the Southern Sinfonia, the Musicians of the Globe, The Independent Opera Company, the New London Consort and London Orchestra da Camera. In July 2006, she was appointed concertmaster of the Hanover Band, one of the most prestigious period instrument orchestras in England. She also plays with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Gabrieli Consort, the Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra Revolutionaire et Romantique, the City of London Sinfonia and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. As a soloist, Madeleine has performed with many symphony orchestras in Australia and the UK, including the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

Mozart Divertimento in D KV. 136 Allegro
Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A, K.622
Mozart Violin Concerto No.3 in G, K.216
Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture (‘Fingal’s Cave’) Op. 26

Buy any two tickets to any performance of Beautiful Minds before 5pm Friday 12 October, and receive a free Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Arias CD featuring Craig Hill.
To take advantage of this great offer, visit or

book by phone on (02) 8256 2222 or  in person at City Recital Hall Angel Place

Mention the promotion code CLARINET to take up this offer. Adult tickets start from $61 (additional fees may apply).

*One CD per transaction. Winners will be notified by email or mail. CD to be collected on the night from the Guest Ticket desk before the performance. Not valid for previous purchases. Offer closes Friday 12 October 2012 at 5pm or while stocks last. Only valid for tickets booked through City Recital Hall Angel Place using the promotion code CLARINET.

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