Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, was written in October 1791 just two months before his death. It was written for his friend – the clarinetist Anton Stadler and consists of three movements, in a fast–slow–fast succession. It is widely considered the first great piece written for that relatively young instrument, invented in the early 18th century. It’s his only concerto for that instrument.
The concerto was published posthumously and contains no autograph. The only relic of this concerto written in Mozart’s hand is an excerpt of an earlier rendition of the concerto written for basset horn in G. This excerpt is nearly identical to the corresponding section in the published version for A clarinet.
Mozart originally intended the piece to be written for basset horn, as Anton Stadler was also a virtuoso basset horn player, but eventually was convinced the piece would be more effective for clarinet. However, several notes throughout the piece go beyond the conventional range of the A clarinet; Mozart may have intended the piece to be played on the basset clarinet, a special clarinet championed by Stadler that had a range down to low (written) C, instead of stopping at (written) E as standard clarinets do.
Stadler played the concerto at its premiere in Prague on October 16, 1791, and his performance was favourably received. Stadler was quite familiar with Mozart’s music, and he had participated in many performances of his friend’s symphonies and operas.
The video presented below is from the Second movement called Adagio and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.