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Adagio in C, K. 617a for glass harmonica

May 19, 2019: Friedrich Heinrich Kern, glass harmonica

Please see the Adagio and Rondo, K. 617, for background on the glass armonica and Marianne Kirchgässner.

Mozart most likely composed the brief, lovely Adagio in C major for glass armonica virtuoso Marianne Kirchgässner in late 1791, about the same time he composed the K. 617 quintet for her. In only twenty-eight measures (fifty-six, counting repeats), Mozart perfectly shows off the instrument’s ethereal qualities. The piece unfolds in rounded binary form, that is, two sections, each repeated, the second of which opens with contrasting material followed by a return to the opening music. Mozart incorporates elegant little embellishments when this opening returns.

As with K. 617, Friedrich Heinrich Kern plays the Adagio on the verrophone, a modern version of the glass armonica.

© Jane Vial Jaffe

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