Sweet Harmony

Sweet Harmony is a classical sextet consisting of two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons. Groups of this composition were very popular in the late 1700's, especially as entertainment in the pleasure gardens which existed throughout Europe.

Most people have heard of octets written by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and others, but few are aware of the huge number of sextets written at the time by composers such as Krommer, Gyrowetz, Druschetzky, and Stumpf. There are, in fact, almost certainly more sextets than octets extant from that period. This music ranges from very serious (cf. Druschetzky's Misereres) to very lighthearted (cf the Parthias by the same composer). Some of it is arrangements of operas of the day: many arrangements for sextet were made of Mozart's operas. Quite a lot of the music sounds to me like a combination of traditional classical music and military music.

Two works not to be missed are Mozart's Serenade K375 and J.C.Bach's six Symphonias. They are elegant examples of what can be done with only six instruments.

Sweet Harmony was established about 20 years ago by Martha Kingdon Ward, a profesional clarinettist and musicologist. She plays first clarinet in the group and devotes endless hours to finding 'new' 18th-C pieces and making them readable by today's musicians. Sweet Harmony give numerous concerts in the Reading area but also travel all over the UK during the annual Mozart Summer Festival organised by Miss Kingdon Ward. A brochure is available from llsshkey@reading.ac.uk

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