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Mozart Piano Concertos

This week we will explore Mozart’s piano concerti and all of the relationships that influenced him, especially his one with Johann Christian Bach. While exploring various sounds, the teenage Mozart was so heavily inspired by J.C. Bach's writing that he made it his own. Bach and Mozart bonded over music, as well as over tricky keyboard games.


Program 1

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart breaks a concerto tradition in "Jeunehomme" with his placement of a piano solo near the opening of the piece. Mozart wrote - literally - a countless number of concertos, many of which are sprightly and elegant to the ear, even at the fingers of an eight-year-old. While exploring various sounds into his teens, Mozart was heavily insipired by Johann Christian Bach's writing, that he renovated it to become his own. Bach and Mozart bonded over music, as well as over tricky keyboard games. 

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Major, I & III
English Chamber Orchestra/Perahia; Perahia, p.
CBS 39225
5:22, 3:58

Schröter: Piano Concerto Op. 3, No. 3, III
English Chamber Orchestra/Perahia, p.
CBS 39225

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 5 in D Major, K. 175, I & III
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Marriner; Brendel, p.
Phil 422507
7:59, 5:08

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9 in Eb Major, Jeunehomme
Academy of Ancient Music/Hogwood; R. Levin, fpno.
Oiseau 443328
10:22, 10:02

Program 2

"We never get to bed before one o'clock," said Leopold Mozart, Mozart's father. In an effort to earn extra income, Mozart taught pupils and when he didn't have pupils, he devoted his time to writing and concerts. One of Mozart's inspirations was his pupil, Barbara Ployer, for whom he wrote the great concerto in G Major sampled here. But pupils were not the only ones learning Mozart's concertos. Mozart wrote and dedicated a poem to a starling who sang the last movement of this piece. 

Mozart: Wind Serenade K. 361, Adagio
Orpheus Ensemble
DG 471435

Mozart: Piano Concerto in Bb Major, K. 450, I
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Marriner; Brendel, p.
Phi 412856-2 (10) or Phi 446921-2 (5)

Mozart: Piano Concerto in G Major, K. 453
Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Abbado; M. João Pires, p.
DG 439941-2

Mozart: The Magic Flute (excerpt)

Program 3

Here, Bill introduces you to the dark side of Mozart. Though Mozart is reputable for his light sounds, he begins explores the darker side of his uplifting music. Mozart is known for his use of the D-minor key, which he implements heavily in his concerto for the opera, "Don Giovanni:" what Mozart classified a tragic comedy. A combination of the romanza and a feeling of anxiety created by the strings and keys causes listeners to experience a fluctuation of emotions.

Mozart: Don Giovanni, overture
Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Abbado
DG 457601

Mozart: Piano Concerto in D minor, K. 466
Columbia Symphony/Szell; R. Serkin, p.
CBS MYK-37236

Mozart: Piano Concerto in C Major, K. 467 (excerpt)
Cleveland Orch./Szell; R. Casadesus p.
CBS MYK-38523 or Sony 67178

Program 4

Mozart breaks the rules again in these excerpts, by attributing wind instruments to his orchestra, for the "Piano Concerto in Eb Major, K. 482," and takes his time in introducing the pianist to the piece. Although clarinets were considered distasteful to the orchestra at the time, Mozart is inspired to use them by a meeting with two clarinetists, the Stadler brothers. Bill identifies the various instruments with images of darkness, hunting, death and once again, lightness. Mozart experiments with the rhythm from Sicily, siciliana, and maintains this melancholy tone in his "Piano Concerto in A Major, No. 23, K. 488," played by Vladimir Horowitz, to forever conclude Mozart's use of the minor key. 

"The sun won't always shine," Bill says as though speaking on behalf of the strings in "Piano Concerto in Eb Major, K. 482." 

Mozart: Piano Concerto in Eb Major, K. 482 (excerpts)
English Chamber Orch./Perahia; M. Perahia, p.
CBS MK-42242
3:14, 10:16, 12:19

Mozart: Piano Concerto in A Major, No. 23, K. 488
La Scala/ Giulini; Horowitz, p.
DG 423287-2

Program 5

Mozart continues creating a duality between the dark and the light, caused by his combination of the minor key with the major. Again, Bill refers to this change in key across compositions as an onslaught of intellectual sunlight. This blithe approach is apparent in Mozart's "Coronation," which he performed at the coronation ceremony of Emperor Leopold II in 1790, as well as at other European festivities. He reads a letter from Mozart to his wife shortly before his death, juxtaposing the calmness in his final concerto, "No. 27 in Bb Major, K. 595, I," written around the same time. 

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, I
Cleveland Orch./Szell; R. Casadesus p.
CBS 38523

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503, I
Orpheus Chamber Ensemble; Goode, p.
None 79454

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 26, K. 537, Coronation, II
English Chamber Orchestra/Davis; de Larrocha, p.
RCA 61698

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27 in Bb Major, K. 595, I
English Chamber Orchestra/Uchida; Uchida, p.
Phil 420951


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