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Like many, I think this amongst the most exquisite pieces of music ever written. In the film "Amadeus", Salieri says of this movement "It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God". I have had the privilege of playing the Serenade many times but when it was suggested that I score the Adagio for clarinet choir I was a little reluctant - it seemed like sacrilege… however, it is increasingly difficult to find the bassoonists and horn players necessary to complete the full ensemble so this transcription does give us mere clarinettists the chance to enjoy playing this masterpiece.
"Musicologists" have recently decided to change some of the notes. There is a manuscript held at the US Library of Congress which includes some accidentals in bars 19 (Eb Cl.) and the answering phrase, but all performances up until the 1990s are played without, presumably because these notes sound like mistakes and do not sound like Mozart. I have noted them in the score in case you would like to enjoy them! The ornamentation used is that which is usually performed.
Performance speeds vary from the deliciously slow (Klemperer) to unacceptably fast "romps" which can be found on YouTube performed by people with no soul. Dynamics are very minimal. The solo lines should all be played with expression whilst the underlying pulse remains calm and serene. Listen to Otto Klemperer with The London Wind Quintet and Ensemble, Edo de Waart with Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Leopold Stokowski with American Symphony Orchestra and Neville Marriner from the Amadeus soundtrack, with The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
The Eb and Alto clarinet parts are covered by extra Bb parts, and the Contra parts are optional
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