Sulgrave Manor

Have you promised yourself that you’ll get out a bit more this year? Perhaps you’re like me and want to find more out about the history of Northamptonshire and the beautiful location in the county? Maybe you’d like see more live musical performances? Well, this is a post for you!

Sunday sees Fiori Musicali come out of hibernation to open their 2014 programme with Mozart’s famous clarinet quintet at the ancestral home of George Washington, Sulgrave Manor.

Don't worry, we're not forecast snow on Sunday!
Don’t worry, we’re not forecast snow on Sunday!

Fiori players Malu Lin Swayne & Kathryn Parry violins, Jane Norman viola, Poppy Walshaw cello and Penelope Rapson director will be joined by special guest artist Jane Booth for a performance of Mozart’s famous Clarinet Quintet.

Clarinet player Jane Booth joins Fiori
Clarinet player Jane Booth joins Fiori

Jane is a big cheese at the London’s Guildhall School of Music, Head of Historical performance.  She is a clarinet specialist – well known for her frequent appearances with many of the country’s leading period instrument orchestras.

Jane plays everything from early music to Wagner on her historical clarinets.  For the Mozart Clarinet Quintet with Fiori, she’ll be playing a basset clarinet. It’s an early clarinet with a bass extension that gives the instrument a bigger range than its modern counterpart.

Did you know?

Mozart wrote the Quintet in September 1789. The Quintet was written for Mozart’s clarinet-playing friend Anton Stadler, who worked at the imperial court. And the piece became known in the Mozart household as the Stadler quintet.

The original performance took place at the imperial court in Vienna in 1790. This was a noisy time in Europe. Austria was at war with Belgium and the French revolution was just beginning!

There’s actually an anonymous arrangement of this famous piece for fortepiano and basset clarinet that dates from 1809 – signs that the piece would have been played by amateurs at home (before the age of non-stop TV entertainment!)

George Washington (whose great-great-great-great-great-grandfather built Sulgrave Manor) became the first President of the United States in April 1789  just five months before Mozart wrote the Quintet, although the composer never got quite as far as the States!

Sunday is Groundhog day, a traditional celebration held in parts of USA, which with the help of a groundhog apparently predicts the coming of spring. 2nd February is also Christian celebration of Candlemass. Tying in with the American tradition, it is said that:

If Candlemass be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemass brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

Fiori Fan