AN 2 9147 Mozart Piano Concertos 22 & 24

Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 22 & 24

Release date January 31, 2020
Album code AN 2 9147
Periods Classical

They spoke about it

Album information

Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-Flat Major, K. 482

Concerto K. 482 was written in late 1785 in the midst of Mozart’s 10-year residence in Vienna, and it was this city that heard the premiere on December 23 of that year. Due to the music’s dignity, grace, lyricism and warmth of orchestral colouring, it is often referred to as the “queen” of Mozart’s piano concertos.

The long orchestral introduction contains no fewer than seven melodic ideas of varying character and identity – a profusion of musical material that underscores one of Mozart’s great contributions to the genre: his expansion of two basic themes to entire “theme groups.” The intense slow movement is a combination of rondo and variation forms. The wind section, prominent throughout the concerto to a possibly unprecedented degree, is featured in a solo septet all its own. The rondo-finale is a sparkling movement evocative of the hunt and exuding the same bubbling spirit as Le nozze di Figaro, composed in the same year.

Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491

Only two of Mozart’s 23 piano concertos are in a minor key. It is therefore reasonable to postulate that for these rare occasions, there was some special signifi cance attached to the use of the minor mode. Indeed, this concerto is an uncommonly dark, forceful, and tragic work, showing abundant evidence of emotional stress. Like the famous G minor symphony, this concerto is generally regarded as one of the leading precursors of 19th-century musical romanticism, replete as it is with passionate outbursts, startling contrasts, chromaticism, rich orchestration, overt emotional fervor, and portrayal of the darker aspects of existence. The reaction of the audience at the first performance (in Vienna, with Mozart at the keyboard, sometime in late March or early April, 1786) is not known, but the work was probably as puzzling and difficult for them as many contemporary works are for us today.

The concerto opens with a restless, shadowy theme played quietly in the lower strings. This theme sets the tone for the whole work, which, despite occasional bright rays, exudes a mood of pessimism and, in Hermann Abert’s words, “titanic defiance.” The “Larghetto” offers an oasis of exalted serenity and melancholic eloquence in the surrounding turmoil, while the finale, a theme and variations set, returns to the world of deeply troubled souls. Not until Beethoven’s Eroica symphony, nearly 20 years later, do we again find a theme and variations of such serious mien and complex symphonic writing.

Overture from Le nozze di Figaro

Le nozze di Figaro received its premiere at Vienna’s Burgtheater on May 1, 1786 to a mixed reception, but it was Prague that truly took this comedy of manners to heart. Mozart attended a performance there less than a year after its Viennese premiere and reported: “I looked on with the greatest pleasure while all these people flew about in sheer delight to the music of my Figaro. they talk of nothing but Figaro. Nothing is played, sung or whistled but Figaro. No opera is drawing audiences like Figaro.” Introducing this great work of mirth and truth is a four-minute overture of scintillating brilliance, irrepressible charm, and formal perfection.

© Robert Markow

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Charles Richard-Hamelin
Les Violons du Roy
AN 2 9147 Mozart Piano Concertos 22 & 24

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