W. A. Mozart
W. A. Mozart

W. A. Mozart
Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in D-Major, K.485 (1782)
Angelina Zhang, soloist

 

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Angelina Zhang

Mozart composed his Concerto Rondo in D in 178, originally intended as a substitute finale to his Piano Concerto no. 5 in D. Mozart had just moved to Vienna and needed some concertos for his own performance to introduce himself to the Viennese public.  The Concerto No. 5 was actually the first he fully composed, as his Concertos 1 through 4 were arrangements of the work of other composers. No. 5 had been his most successful concerto with the public on his tours, but he deemed the finale of the work inappropriate for the Viennese public and decided that he needed something that catered to their taste. The Rondo was a much lighter work than the original finale, which was a work of some serious intent, and he had been warned of the frivolous character of the Viennese public.

Whether he truly needed to change the finale we will never know, but we do know that the new finale was a success and had to be encored at the first performance. However, when it came time to publish the works, he left the original finale to the concerto intact and published this single movement separately.  The fortunate young lady to whom it was dedicated, “Pour Mad:selle Charlotte de W“, was a mystery at the time, and she remains unknown today.

What to listen for

This work is rather strangely titled, for it is not a rondo at all, but rather a set of variations. A true rondo consists of a single theme that recurs between episodes of contrasting music, while a variation form uses a theme that is then subject to a series of variations. We are not sure why it was given the “wrong” title – the likely reason is that publisher thought calling something a “rondo” would sell better than calling it a set of variations. Nevertheless, it is an attractive work that is both lyrical and brilliant, while the variations let the pianist explore many kinds of virtuosity and expression.