Mozart / Divertimento in F major, K. 138
“Three early Mozart pieces, K. 137, 137 and 138, are labeled divertimentos on the manuscripts and are so listed in Grove. However, few Mozart scholars accept that tag as an accurate description of the works, and most doubt that the title came from Mozart. For one thing, a divertimento should have two minuets, and these three have none. At first glance they seem to be straightforward string quartets–yet many experts contend that they don’t sound at all like string quartets.
So what are they? Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein fancies them as small symphonies for strings, to which the composer was prepared to add extra parts for winds; they are sometimes known as the ‘Salzburg symphonies.’ Musicologist Hans Keller has given them the curious designation of ‘orchestral quartets.’ Others insist that they are indeed string quartets even if they lack the serious temper of that rarefied form. Yet (to complete the confusion) they are universally referred to as divertimentos–the one thing everyone agrees they are not.
Whatever they’re called, they are fine examples of Mozart’s early essays in chamber music…Mozart composed them in 1772, when he was 16, not long before leaving Salzburg on his third (and, as it turned out, his last) trip to Italy. He was going to Milan to produce the opera ‘Lucio Silla‘ on a commission from Count Firmian, governor-general of that city. He probably expected, from previous experience, to need music to entertain the count’s court while he was at work on the opera. So it seems likely that these three works were composed to meet that need. Mozart may have planned to present them with a small orchestra, as Einstein surmises, but here they are played by the four instruments of a string quartet.
The Divertimento in B flat, K. 137…differs from [K. 136 & K. 138] by starting with a slow movement. This affecting ‘Andante’ is led by the first violin and is punctuated by dramatic responses from the accompanying strings. A spirited ‘Allegro di molto’ movement follows, leading to a delicate finale marked ‘Allegro assai’. This section, while not actually a minuet, has a courtly air that suggests a roomful of dancers bowing and curtsying under brilliant chandeliers.” – Harvey B. Loomis
Painting: Still Life (Morning Glories, Toad, & Insects), Otto Marseus van Schrieck
The Quintet in E flat major for Piano and Winds, K. 452, was completed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on March 30, 1784 and premiered two days later at the Imperial and Royal National Court Theater in Vienna. Shortly after the premiere, Mozart wrote to his father that “I myself consider it to be the best thing I have written in my life.” It is scored for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. There are three movements:
1. Largo – Allegro moderato
This structure closely resembles that of a typical sonata. The first movement is a sprightly sonata form Allegro, with themes being passed from instrument to instrument, usually with the piano introducing a theme and accompanying while the oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon play variations on it. The Larghetto movement is typical of the 2nd movement of other Mozart pieces: soft and gentle, yet still engaging. The Allegretto movement is a “sonata-rondo” of the kind Mozart used as the finale of many of the piano concertos he was writing at this period, and contains a written-out cadenza-like section toward the end.
This piece was the inspiration for the Quintet in E flat for Piano and Winds, Op. 16, by Ludwig van Beethoven, who composed this tribute in 1796. Both compositions use the same scoring.
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The Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major (K. 488) is a musical composition for piano and orchestra written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was finished, according to Mozart’s own catalogue, on March 2, 1786, around the time of the premiere of his opera, The Marriage of Figaro. It was one of three subscription concerts given that spring and was probably played by Mozart himself at one of these. The concerto is scored for piano solo and an orchestra consisting of one flute, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns and strings. In Mozart’s later works the wind instruments are equal to the stringed instruments, and this is also the case in this concerto. It has three movements:
1. Allegro in A major and common time.
2. Adagio in F-sharp minor and 6/8 time (in later editions, the tempo is listed as Andante).
3. Allegro assai in A and alla breve (in later editions, the tempo is listed as Presto). In Rondo form.
The first movement is mostly sunny and positive with the occasional melancholic touches typical of Mozart pieces in A major and is in sonata form. The piece begins with a double exposition, the first played by the orchestra, and the second when the piano joins in. Continue reading