The foregoing discussion of the clarinet concertos and quartets by Cartellieri has not concealed
the weakness or the shallowness of the musical value of these works, which arises largely from
the tendency toward the stereotyped mannerism of the 18th-century style of composition. It has
also been emphasized that Cartellieri’s development is so slight that the internal evidence of
these concertos provides no sure basis for recognizing a definite chronological order. To be sure,
some details have been brought out which cast doubt upon the chronological order proposed by
the library. But the relative order of their composition is essentially less important than the
significance of their total output within the scope of the whole body of eighteenth and
nineteenth-centuries clarinet solo music.
The relatively large number of these works, their playability and appropriateness at the time of
their origin, their contribution to the advance of the clarinet’s solo technique, and their
performance in widespread centers of Europe (Vienna, Praga) must have exercised a stimulating
influence on composition and performance of further solo works for the clarinet during the
The virtuosity demanded of the solo player by Cartellieri is equal to that of most any clarinet
works prior to the pyrotechnics of Spohr’s clarinet concertos. This level of virtuosity can easily
be undervalued on modern instruments, as they are more playable than with period instruments.
Cartellieri’s contributions confirmed the eighteenth-century traits and evolution of idiomatic
writing for the clarinet in the nineteenth century, are those of enlarging and expanding existing
style characteristics as opposed to innovating new ideas. Even though he was a minor composer
of the late Classical style, his solo clarinet works are representative of the period by coloristic
timbre effects, patterned articulations, and virtuosity. The clarinet continued individually as a
solo instrument and was asserted even more strongly in the early nineteenth century than in its
first hundred years of existence. The mechanical improvements and rise in virtuoso performance
standards caused composers and performers of the instrument to work towards an expanded
compass: a more balanced tessitura including frequent use of the chalumeau register (a sound
uniquely different from that of the other instruments prompted by the discontinuation of the
earlier clarion-style), the trend of players to play with the mouthpiece downward with greater
conformity, an effective dynamic range (perhaps larger gradations than those of any other
woodwind instrument), and finally, the agility of technique rivaled and perhaps exceeded only by
the flute. Cartellieri’s role in prompting these changes occurred from at least two different
perspectives: as a teacher (although perhaps to only a minimal degree) and as a composer, by
expressing his virtuosic and compositional ideas in the language of music itself. Cartellieri’s
compositions are deserving of performance and stand as the best compositions comparative to
any of the clarinetist-composers.
For the clarinet performer today, Cartellieri’s compositions serve as models representing the best
traits of the late eighteenth-century wind virtuoso school and provide repertory which bridges the
gap between the old style of Stamitz and Mozart, and the new style of Crusell, Weber, and Spohr.
The concertos and the quartets are excellent training pieces for clarinet students emphasizing
formal characteristics of the period. They are of great merit in teaching phrasing and articulation.
The quartets are somewhat confined in tessitura and are therefore limited in dynamic
expressiveness. They are pleasant, charming, and unassuming works of the chamber genre
idiomatically suited for the solo instrument, emphasizing directness and balance of conventional
Cartellieri’s works were undoubtedly fashionable vehicles for displaying the virtuosity upon the
clarinet, but they do not appear merely as Bravourstuck of the period. They are possessing a high
degree of musical craftsmanship with carefully manipulated control and occasional moments of
true musical inspiration.