After beginning at the end of Mozart’s symphony development, I’m going to jump back and start at the beginning of his piano concertos.
The recording today is Mitsuko Uchida on the piano with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jeffrey Tate.
Apple Music Linking to Apple Music is a mess, and it doesn’t always work. If you get taken to iTunes instead of the Apple Music site, just know that this album does exist for streaming in Apple Music.
Spotify The album on Spotify is divided up into a lot of smaller albums.
The observations below are quick initial reactions. Sometimes I’ll listen to a movement again to get a better sense of it, but I’m never diving into the sheet music. I want to experience the music as a listener does and see how it grabs me as a musical experience.
Piano Concerto No. 5 in D, K. 175
- Very jaunty beginning.
- Piano gets right into it. It requires brilliant playing right from the piano’s entrance.
- Each instrument voice has enough space to be heard. Back and forth between piano and orchestra is delightful.
- Mozart exposure again. What the pianist must play is so sparse that it must be delicately and precisely played.
- I bet this was a crowd-pleaser.
2. Andante ma un poco adagio
- Alberti bass in left hand.
- Very gentle piano part. The orchestra always gives enough space for the piano even during the most delicate passages.
- Horns and woodwinds come in at moments of orchestral accent. They’re bursts of tonal color and then vanish.
- This is just such a different animal than late Classical and Romantic piano work. I personally find it very refined and deceptively simple. The way the piano slots into what the orchestra is playing is sometimes just golden. Maybe I’m remarking that the sky is blue here since the piano should be heard in a piano concerto, but there’s something about the transparency that seems special to me.
- Virtuosic but gentle.
- Lots happening in the piano, but it’s not clouds of chords but hyper active individual lines.
- Lots of humor and charm.
- So much action with the dynamics. Swells, outbursts, back to quiet, and then the dynamics of the phrases themselves telling a story.
- Brief finale but satisfying.
Let’s do another.
Piano Concerto No. 6 in B Flat K. 238
- Begins with strong contrast in dynamics.
- Very busy piano with the orchestra dropping out and providing accompaniment only occasionally.
- Overall more daring than the previous concerto. Melodic and harmonic flourishes are given more room for experimentation.
- Evokes a greater variety of emotional responses as well. Occasionally melancholy or longing despite the major key and quick tempo.
2. Andante un poco adagio
- Wow. Relaxing.
- Pizzicato makes an appearance.
- Delicate lines rising rising yearning.
- Some very surprising harmonies arising out of orchestral swells.
- The trills as effect really work.
3. Rondeau (Allegro)
- That “BOOM chuck chuck chuck” rhythm is infectious, especially when the basses take it up.
- If I’m getting the rondeau structure right, the “C” section features some of the more mind bending piano work I’ve heard so far in these concertos. Really takes you on a journey.
That’s all for today. Tomorrow I’ll continue on the with piano concertos. If there’s some detail that you feel ought to be called out in any of these pieces, I’m happy to hear it.