Mozart wrote the trio on 10 sheets (19 pages) in Vienna and dated the manuscript on 5 August 1786. According to Karoline Pichler, a 17-year-old student of Mozart at this time, the work was dedicated to Franziska Jacquin (1769–1850), another student of his. In fact, Mozart and the Jacquin family —father Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin and his youngest son, Gottfried Jacquin— were quite close friends. They performed house concerts together where Nikolaus played the flute and Franziska the piano. In a letter to Gottfried from 15 January 1787 Mozart praises Franziska's studiousness and diligence, and he dedicated a considerable number of works to the Jacquin family, most notably this trio. His friendship went even further when one year later he wrote two songs, Als Luise … (K. 520) and Das Traumbild (K. 530) for the explicit purpose of Gottfried using them under his own name.
The German word Kegelstatt means a place where skittles are being played, a bowling alley. Mozart did write that he composed the 12 duos for basset horns (K. 487) while playing skittles; he noted on the first page of that autograph: "Vienna, 27 July 1786 while playing skittles" ("Wien, den 27ten Jullius 1786 untern Kegelscheiben") – only about a week before he dated this trio. However, there is no evidence that there was a similar situation with this work; the title was added by later publishers. Mozart entered this work into his own list of works as "Ein Terzett für klavier, Clarinett und Viola".
This clarinet-viola-piano trio was first played in the Jacquin's house; Anton Stadler played the clarinet, Mozart the viola, Franziska Jacquin the piano. In Mozart's time, the clarinet was a relatively new instrument, and the Kegelstatt Trio (along with the Clarinet Quintet and Concerto of Mozart) helped increase the instrument's popularity.
The trio was published in 1788 by Artaria, arranged —probably with Mozart's consent— for violin, viola and piano, and the original clarinet part was described as "alternative part": La parte del Violino si può eseguire anche con un Clarinetto. Due to this unusual scoring, the piece is sometimes adapted to fit other types of trios; e.g. a clarinet-violin-piano trio, a violin-cello-piano trio or a violin-viola-piano trio as in that first publication by Artaria.
No composer before Mozart had written for this combination of instruments; in the 19th century Robert Schumann wrote Märchenerzählungen (Op. 132), Max Bruch in 1910 "Eight pieces for clarinet, viola, and piano" (Op. 83) and Carl Reinecke "Trio for piano, clarinet and viola" (Op. 246).
In March 1894 the manuscript came into the possession of the musicologist and composer Charles Théodore Malherbe (1853–1911) when he bought it from Leo Sachs, a banker in Paris, who had bought it from Johann Anton André who bought it as part of a large purchase of manuscripts from Mozart's widow Constanze (the Mozart Nachlass) in 1841. In 1912 it was donated to the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique, Malherbe collection, Ms 222.
The manuscript notes the clarinet part as "Clarinetto in B" and uses the written pitch. The viola part uses the C-clef in the alto position. The labelling of the piano part shows a correction by Mozart where he started to write "Ce" (for Cembalo) and then replaced it with "Piano forte". However, this part is labelled "Cembalo" for the second and third movements. The key signature of E-flat major in Mozart's late chamber music indicates close friendship.
The trio consists of three movements:
The first movement is not the more traditional Allegro as an opening movement, but a more contemplative Andante. Following on from this, the second movement is of course not the traditional slow movement, but a moderate Menuetto, and the last movement, while lively, is not the standard Allegro. In short, the contrasts in this trio are not as stark as in most classical sonatas.
The Andante is written in the time signature of 6/8 time and consists of 129 bars; a typical performance would last just over 6 minutes. It does not contain any repeats, which is unusual for chamber music; among Mozart's mature works other than symphonies, only the "Posthornserenade" (K. 320) doesn't have any repeats in the opening movement. The most recognisable phrase of this movement's principal theme is a grupetto which appears throughout.
The second movement is written in the time signature of 3/4 time and consists of 158 bars, almost all of which are repeated; a typical performance would last about 6 minutes. The key signature of this movement is B-flat major, the dominant key to E-flat from the first movement.
The opening menuetto of this movement consists of the exposition of a 4-bar theme (bars 1–12, repeated), and its development (bars 13–41, also repeated). The piano's pounding bass line and sharp dynamic contrasts set the mood of this theme apart from any conventional light and frilly notions of a Minuet. During the development, the dialogue between the instruments becomes intensified, and Mozart shows his grasp of counterpoint without ever sounding academic or "learned".
The following Trio opens with a chromatic 4-note phrase, to which the viola responds with a run of lively triplets, accompanied by chromatic chords from the piano (bars 42–62, repeated). In the development of that theme, the 4-note phrase and the lively triplets are then taken up by the piano, and clarinet and viola present some chromatically rising lines, before all three instruments start a concerto-like conversation where the 4-note phrase is only heard twice in the piano left hand (bars 63–94, repeated).
The final part of the Trio starts with a variation of the trio's 4-note phrase, which is briefly developed (bars 95–102) before returning to the brighter theme of the Menuetto whose treatment ends the movement without repeats.
III. Rondeaux: Allegretto
The last movement is written in the time signature of cut common time (or alla breve, similar to 2/2) and consists of 222 bars; a typical performance would last about 8½ minutes. The key signature, as is conventional, is the same as the opening movement, E-flat major. The musical format of this movement is a 7-part rondo, a rarity in Mozart's work; this 7-part structure also explains the title Rondeaux, the French plural form of Rondeau.
The structure is AB–AC–AD–A. Theme A is an 8-bar cantabile melody in two parts, drawn from the first movement and presented first by the clarinet, then taken up as a variation by the piano (bars 1–16). The melody of theme B - in B-flat major - is played once by the clarinet (bars 17–24) before the piano plays an intermezzo of several bars. From bar 36 onwards, all three instruments play short phrases of that theme in turn, followed by a piano solo until bar 50. Theme C - in c minor - is presented by the viola and repeated (bars 67–76); all three instruments develop that theme in bars 77–90 (repeated). This development visits the subdominant minor scale (vi) of F minor before ending in the relative key of C minor. Theme D - in A-flat major - is introduced in bar 116 by all three instruments almost in unison, and elaborately developed in bars 132–153 (repeated). In contrast to the previous development, this goes through the subdominant major scale (VI) of A-flat major. The movement ends with a flowery, operatic coda (bars 185-222).
- Einstein, Alfred: Mozart. Sein Charakter, sein Werk. Zürich, Stuttgart 1953
- Hugh Macdonald, To Repeat or Not to Repeat? in "Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association", Vol. 111, (1984–1985), p. 130
- James Arnold Hepokoski, Warren Darcy: Elements of Sonata Theory, p. 401, Oxford University Press US, ISBN 978-0-19-514640-0
- "La Fenice" (program notes) Newtown Friends of Music (10 April 2005). Retrieved on 2 October 2008.
- Trio in Es (Kegelstatt-Trio) für Klavier, Klarinette und Viola: Score and critical report (German) in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
- Autograph of the Andante at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, (Gallica)
- Kegelstatt Trio at the Mutopia Project
- Recording from Andante (4.4 MB), Menuetto (4.1 MB), Rondeaux (5.9 MB) :
- Trio for clarinet, viola & piano in E-flat major ("Kegelstatt"), K. 498. Classical Work Reviews. All Media Guide, 2006. Answers.com