Trio in E-flat major, K. 498
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
The Trio in E flat major was first performed as originally composed —for piano, clarinet, and viola—at a house concert in Vienna in 1786. Mozart played the viola part joined by one of his gifted young piano students, Franziska von Jaquin, and the clarinetist Anton Stadler.
Mozart was known to have appreciated the clarinet, a relatively new instrument at the time, and he was the first composer to write for this combination of instruments. However, when the trio was first published in 1788 it was transcribed for violin, viola, and piano. The clarinet part was described as an “alternative part.” This was generally thought to have been with the composer’s consent. It has been observed that the addition of the violin part created opportunities for increased sales.
The first movement is marked Andante rather than the more conventional Allegro, and neither the exposition nor the latter part of the movement are repeated. As the violin and viola play in similar registers, as do the clarinet and viola, they often alternate between solo passages and accompaniment. The grupetto, or turn, is a recurring characteristic of the movement’s principal theme.