Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Scherzo: Allegro
Movement 3: Adagio
Movement 4: Finale: Vivace
The work was an unqualified success, played frequently that season and widely thereafter. An indication of its popularity was discovered en route to engagements in London over five years later, in 1819/20. Spohr and Dorette stopped in Gandersheim and presented concerts in Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Kassel and Lille. Here the Amateur Society was run by a Herr Vogel and on their arrival Madame Vogel, beside singing its theme, promptly enquired if she was addressing the composer of the Nonet. Spohr wrote, ‘When I responded in the affirmative she fell on my neck in a burst of Gallic impulsiveness and cried; “Oh! how pleased my husband will be … car il est fou de votre Nonetto”.’
Typically, Spohr’s inventive powers were fuelled by challenge and he makes conspicuous use of all nine ‘voices’; mindful of Tost’s requirement that the Nonet should emphasize individual characteristics of each instrument. Perhaps the work’s most persuasive, and undoubtedly unifying, feature is the four-note sequence that begins it. It is present in all movements except the felicitous D minor scherzo—a structure built around two trios, one of which involves the strings while the other combines winds and double bass. The four-note motif is most predominant in Spohr’s opening Allegro where it is established immediately and reappears in fugal form as the movement develops.
As the expressive Adagio unfolds, this germ-like feature is heard yet again and within both exposition and coda it reinforces the movement’s basic construction. Spohr’s buoyant Vivace brings one last, jocular allusion to the persistent motif with a second subject reference from the oboe. The entire work is skilfully crafted and to this day retains the interest and appeal it held for those first, enthusiastic Viennese audiences.
from notes by Howard Smith © 1994