The Sinfonia Concertante for Four Winds in E-flat major, K. 297b (Anh. C 14.01), is a work thought to be by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and orchestra. He originally wrote a work for flute, oboe, horn, bassoon, and orchestra, K. Anh. 9 (297B), in Paris in April 1778. This original work is lost.
The lost Mozart Sinfonia Concertante
In April 1778, Mozart wrote to his father from Paris about the sinfonia concertante he was writing for performance at the Concert Spirituel naming the four virtuoso soloists who were to play. They were Johan Wendling (flute), Friedrich Ramm (Oboe), Giovanni Punto (horn) and Georg Wenzl Ritter (bassoon). Mozart knew the three woodwind players from a previous visit to Mannheim. He wrote that the four soloists were “in love with” the work and that Joseph Legros, the Concert Spirituel director, had kept the score to have it copied. However at the last minute Mozart’s piece was displaced from the concert program by a piece for similar forces by Giuseppe Cambini and the Mozart work was never played. From this point the original Mozart work became lost.
The Sinfonia Concertante as it is played today
The work as it is performed today came to light in 1869 as an anonymous copy manuscript in the collection of Otto Jahn. Jahn wrote the first scholarly biography of W. A. Mozart and had amassed a large quantity of Mozart letters, original manuscripts and score copies. These he made available to Köchel to assist with the creation of the Köchel catalogue of Mozart’s work. There is considerable debate about the relation of this work as it is performed today to the lost original work, in part because the Jahn score has a somewhat different lineup of soloists from the lost Mozart work, but also because it contains errors both of copying and composition.
The Sinfonia Concertante is scored for solo oboe, solo clarinet, solo horn, solo bassoon, and an orchestra of two horns, two oboes, and strings. A typical performance lasts about 28 minutes.
The work consists of three movements:
- Allegro, in common time. This movement is in sonata form with three expositions rather than two – one played by the orchestra, the other two by the soloists. It contains a written cadenza before the coda.
- Adagio in common time, with “gentle exchanges of thematic material”.
- Andante con variazioni, a theme with ten variations and a coda. Each variation is separated by “identical, basically decorative orchestral ritornelli”. This movement is in 2/4 time until the end of the last variation, where 6 adagio bars in common time lead to a coda in 6/8 time.