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ClassicsOnline Home » MOZART: Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 27
BBC Radio 3
Jeunehomme (No. 9 in E flat, K 271) is admirably paced with a refreshing account of the Andantino contrasting with a sparkling finale which is quite exhilarating.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Piano Concerto No.9 in E Flat Major, K. 271 (Jeunehomme
Piano Concerto No.27 in B Flat Major, K. 595
The solo concerto had become, during the eighteenth century, an
important vehicle for composer-performers, a form of music that had developed from !he
work of Johann Sebastian Bach, through his much admired sons Carl Philipp Emanuel and
Johann Christian, to provide a happy synthesis of solo and orchestral performance. Mozart
w rote his first numbered piano concertos, arrangements derived from other composers, in
1767, undertaking further arrangements from Johann Christian Bach a few years later. His
first attempt at writing a concerto, however, had been at the age of four or five,
described by a friend of the family as a smudge of notes, although, his father claimed,
very correctly composed. In Salzburg as an adolescent Mozart wrote half a dozen piano
concertos, the last of these for two pianos after his return from Paris. The remaining
seventeen piano concertos were written in Vienna, principally for his own use in the
subscription concerts that he organised there during the last decade of his life.
The second half of the eighteenth century also brought
considerable changes in keyboard instruments, as the harpsichord was gradually superseded
by the fortepiano or pianoforte, with its hammer action, an instrument capable of dynamic
nuances impossible on the older instrument, while the hammer-action clavichord from which
the piano developed had too little carrying power for public performance. The instruments
Mozart had in Vienna, by the best contemporary makers, had a lighter touch than the modern
piano, with action and leather-padded hammers that made greater delicacy of articulation
possible, among other differences. They seem well suited to Mozart's own style of playing,
by comparison with which the later virtuosity of Beethoven seemed to some contemporaries
rough and harsh.
The so-called Jeunehomme
Concerto was written in Salzburg in January 1777 for the French virtuosa,
Mademoiselle Jeunehomme, whose name appears in various misspellings in the Mozart family
correspondence. She had visited Salzburg at the end of 1776, the occasion for the
composition of the concerto, and Mozart was to renew the acquaintance in Paris in the
following year. He made use of the concerto, a particularly brilliant work, himself, and
played it in Munich and Paris and probably at his first public concert in Vienna in 1781.
Three sets of cadenzas survive for the third movement and two for the first and second,
the later ones written for Vienna.
There is a change in opening procedure in the E flat Concerto, with the soloist entering briefly in
the second bar, instead of waiting until the end of the orchestral exposition. The
appearance is a brief one, followed by a gentler theme from the orchestra, which, as
usual, consists of strings with pairs of oboes and horns. The opening figure is heard
again, after which the soloist enters with par1 of a new theme, before going on to develop
the first subject that we have heard and offer its own version of the second theme.
Elements of themes already heard form the substance of the central development, which is
duly followed by a modified recapitulation, including a cadenza by the composer.
The second movement of the concerto, in C minor, reminds us of
the essentially operatic vocal style of much of Mozart's music. Here, in the first theme,
there are obvious affinities to operatic recitative, here tragic in cast, with all the
deep melancholy that the choice of key implies. The mood changes into E flat major, to be
replaced again by the prevailing feeling of sadness. This is quickly dispelled by the
opening of the final rondo, although the movement is not without its moments of drama.
Concerto in B flat major, K. 595, completed on 5th
January, 1791. Mozart played the concerto at a concer1 for the clarinet virtuoso Joseph
Bähr on 4th March, given in a room belonging to the restaurateur Jahn. The year,
never1heless, was a busy one and seemed likely to bring a turn for the better in Mozart's
fortunes. Emanuel Schikaneder, an actor-manager well known for his Shakespearean
performances, had devised a magic German opera, Die
Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), which was staged in the autumn at the suburban
Theater an der Wieden, to be described by the critical diarist Count von Zinzendorf as
"une farce incroyable". Whatever its dramatic peculiarities, the music was much
enjoyed by the general public. There had been a commission also from Prague for an opera
seria, La clemenza di Tito, to celebrate the
coronation in that city of the Emperor Leopold II. The work was performed there in early
September to the disgust of the Empress, Who had little time for such "porchería
tedesca", and of Count von Zinzendorf, Who was bored. The same year Mozart began his
Requiem, a work that he never finished, and wrote his Clarinet
Concerto and Clarinet Quintet.
The B flat Piano Concerto
Jeno Jandó was born at Pécs, in south Hungary, in 1952. He
started to learn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy
of Music under Katalin Nemes and Pál Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latter on his
graduation in 1974. Jand6 has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad,
including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the
chamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. In addition
to his many appearances in Hungary, he has played widely abroad in Eastern and Western
Europe, in Canada and in Japan.
He is currently engaged in a project to record all Mozart's
piano concertos for Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of
Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second
Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody
and Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.
The Concentus Hungaricus was established in February 1985 by
Peter Popa and consists of leading members of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra under the
co-leadership of Ildikó Hegyi and Pál Andrássy. The 16 member ensemble has worked with
leading Hungarian and foreign musicians, including Vilmos Tatrai, Andras Mihaly, Miklós
Perenyi, Denes Kovacs, Jeno Jandó, György Pauk and Viktoria Jagling, and performs
frequently at home and abroad. The repertoire of the group ranges from Purcell and Corelli
to Schoenberg, Bartók and Alban Berg, while recordings include extensive studio work and
releases by Hungaroton and Naxos.
András Ligeti has been a conductor with the Budapest Symphony
Orchestra since 1985. Born in Pécs in 1953, he went on to study the violin at the Ferenc
Liszt Music School in Budapest, taking his Artist's Diploma in 1976. From that date until
1980 he was leader of the orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera and appeared as soloist
in a number of European countries, as well as in Canada. He was a member of the Eder
Quartet and leader of the Jeunesse Chamber Ensemble. In 1980 he won first prize in the
Bloomington Sonata Competition, and during the 1980- 1981 season worked under Sir Georg
Solti and as a pupil of Karl Oesterreicher in Vienna. Until his appointment to the Radio
Orchestra Ligeti was a conductor with the State Opera. He has directed performances of a
number of contemporary works, in addition to his experience with the repertoire of the
opera house and his varied career as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral conductor.
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MOZART: Piano Concertos Nos. 9 and 27