Hoffmeister is one of those shadowy figures in the crowded world of late eighteenth-century Central European music. He is better remembered today as the publisher of Mozart's and Haydn's works. As a composer, his dates (1754-1812) would suggest a stylistic proximity to Mozart, but Stamitz or Haydn are probably, on the whole, better comparisons. There was something of a friendship between Mozart and Hoffmeister; that is, the former, chronically impecunious, was compelled to borrow money from the more prudent, restrained, Hoffmeister.
Here, though, in these clarinet quartets, we encounter a musical intellect that stands amazingly close, in terms of sheer originality, to that of Mozart's. Hoffmeister's writing for the clarinet in these pieces utilizes its range to the utmost, and the brilliance, and invention, in terms of transformation of themes and their distribution amongst the parts is of a Mozartean stamp. If Hoffmeister does not quite reach the depths of profundity to be found in Mozart's "Kegelstatt" trio or his clarinet concerto, that is hardly a condemnation of these works.
This is strongly recommended to anyone who values late eighteenth-century wind instrument writing of a serious nature.