Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
B. Jan. 27, 1756, Salzburg, Austria
D. Dec. 5, 1791, Vienna, Austria

His last of the genre, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 has often been described as “autumnal,” even “valedictory.” While there is no real evidence to suggest that the composer knew that this was his last work for piano, it nevertheless stands as an appropriate summation to a genre which he very much made his own. At the very least, this concerto is a work that demonstrates Mozart’s late style at its most concentrated and most concise, as he develops an abundance of thematic material with the utmost restraint and control.

Mozart’s concertos have often been described as “extended chamber music,” a description which fits this piece better than most, in that the piano is more of a leading character than an opponent of the orchestra (a combative virtuoso notion of concerto that better fits the later Beethoven). Here, a distinct sense of dialogue between piano and orchestra reflects Mozart’s operatic instincts. Given the concerto’s conversational qualities, it is not surprising that the composer later borrowed the theme of its Rondo finale for Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling (“Longing for Spring,” K. 596), one of his last songs for voice and piano. Composed during a period of bitter disappointments and repeated setbacks – his journeys to Berlin in 1789 and to Frankfurt am Main in 1790 brought the composer none of the successes which he had hoped might make up for his waning reputation in Vienna – the concerto was not written as the result of any commission, nor was there any immediate prospect of performance. As a result, one tends to hear a world- weary beauty and a sense of nostalgia throughout the work. In the words of Wolfgang Hildesheimer, Piano Concerto No. 27 is Mozart’s “transfigured farewell” and, despite its peculiarities, it is fitting as such as one of the composer’s most personal and unfiltered musical utterances.

The DSO last performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major, K595 in November 2005.

DSO Shop @ the Max Recommends :
Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist and conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra of London, Decca 467437.

Program notes by Stephanie Heriger.


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