original piano transcription of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Divertimento in F major for 2 Oboes, 2 Horns and 2 Bassoons (Wind Sextet) KV 213
composition date: 1775
transcription date: 2011 (06 August 2011)
complete transcription of all 4 movements:
- Allegro spiritoso
- Contredanse en Rondeau
YouTube channel (embedded links below)
Delightful Divertimento for wind instruments. This is actually the first in a series of 5 that IMSLP appropriately groups as “Divertimenti for Wind Sextet”
I have always wondered why the various Divertimenti Mozart wrote are not sequentially numbered as the Symphonies or the Sonatas etc. The answer is probably because the instrumentations are different. This is a wind divertimento for 2 Oboes, 2 Horns and 2 Bassoons but there are other ones with a different choice of instruments, and of course there are string-only divertimentos such as the more widely-known KV.136-138 and so on.
Anyway, I found this one by chance while browsing the Neue Mozart Ausgabe; as reference performance, I listened in streaming to the Brilliant Classics one, always on the NMA site (one of the first times I used this awesome content feature).
I have already listened to many others in the same way and I’ll probably do them too, without rushing; the divertimentos *are* some of my favorite Mozart works.
There was a period when I was wary of transcribing anything scored for wind instruments, because I thought the timbre was too far apart or too finely tuned by the composer to be ported on the piano. Over time I changed this view, as you can see.
By the way, wind instruments are actually easier to transcribe for the piano than string instruments. Most of them can’t produce chords, and other technical issues like trills and repeated notes can be ported on the piano without any adjustment. For example with strings it’s easy to play fast repeated notes, on the piano it’s really difficult so you don’t generally see it in the literature and when I transcribe it I have to translate it to another, more pianistic technique (alternated octaves for instance). With winds, repeated notes are just as difficult as on the piano so you don’t encounter them often either. There you go, one problem is gone.
You don’t see unfamiliar clefs either: only the violin clef (G) and the bass clef (F). In string pieces you often see the viola clef (C) and sometimes the annoying alto clef. Before I started transcribing I could read only the piano clefs, over time I learned the other two as well but while I am now fairly confident with the viola clef, I still have a hard time with the alto clef.
What is annyoing with winds (there just HAS to be a catch somewhere) is that some instruments are routinely scored in a different key than the piece itself, so you have to transpose. Horns are always scored as if they played in C while they actually play in whatever key the piece is. Clarinets and English Horns are oddballs too, they are scored on the dominant.
In the rearrangement of the voices I used for this transcription, the two oboes make up the piano right hand while the two bassoons are the left hand. The two horns’ notes are brought in when significant, generally to the right hand.
Andante: Bars [5,6] are an example where apparently it’s impossible to play all the notes on a single piano, while it’s actually possible if you distribute the notes between the two hands with some guile. The higlight here is in the recapitulation  when the oboes echo and imitate each other for a short while. I sometimes used a trill to make up for significant or in crescendo continuous notes.
Menuetto: Rendering the horn sound to the piano is a challenge every time. Sometimes I port it higher, sometimes lower (see the trio). Timbrically speaking maybe the closest is to play lightly, staccato and tre corde all together…
Contredanse: Playful bliss from start to finish, this short (too short!!) Contredanse is so much fun. There you have a true Divertimento! A Divertimento, as its name implies, is meant to be fun: fun for the composer writing it, for the musicians playing it, for the listeners, and even the transcribers! And that’s another reason why I particularly like Mozart’s divertimenti 🙂
The catalog number is 68 (tbpt68) and the whole transcription was done on the 6th of August (the 8th month of the year) so tbpt68 done on 6/8 (and yes, it was on purpose ^^ )