Salon at Sakura #1 7/29/12 Mozart Piano Concerto #24 in c minor KV. 491

As anyone that may possibly read my blog knows, it has no real ‘focus’.  Its not an SL fashion/photography blog, though I do like doing that a lot and wouold do more if RL were not so hectic lately.  Its not an SL roleplay/story blog, though I also really like to do that.  It has SL fashion of my own eclectic tastes, it has rp character background, and also some RL ramblings.  It will also now have posts about my Salons!

For any that may not know, I recently started a Salon series at Sakura.  The purpose was to just get some people together and listen to, and discuss, a musical piece/genre/artist.  I’d do up a notecard with some background and notes, and some of my opinions and we would just take the time to sit back and enjoy.  The first was held on 7/29/12 and the second 9/9/12.  These will be held now every two weeks, and the music itself should be broadcast on Radio Riel!

We will listen to a fairly eclectic mix, as it will mirror my tastes.  Expect piano and choral music to be fairly well represented.  We’ll see how it goes.  I have a group in SL setup for people to join, and I will post the notes here on my blog after the Salon is held!

So, without further ado, the notes to the first Salon at Sakura!

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) wrote 27 piano concertos, and some of these are considered amongst his finest works and are also ranked as some of the best of the concerto form by anyone.

A concerto is a major symphonic work, generally in three movements, and consists of one or more soloists and an orchestra.  A concerto, and a piano concerto in particular, is a delicate balancing act for a composer, between making the piece a bravura piano piece with orchestral accompaniment or an orchestral piece with the piano simply being a part of the orchestra.  Mozart achieves this balance well, especially in his later piano concertos.

Please note, however, that the orchestras of Mozart’s day were relatively small compared to the orchestras of the 19th century and today.  In addition, the piano itself was quite a different instrument than it is today, and this changes how we hear this music compared to audiences of Mozart’s time.

A classical (please note, by this I mean the classical period, roughly 18th century) piano concerto is often in three movements.

  1. A quick opening movement in sonata form including a cadenza (which may be improvised by the soloist).
  2. A slow, free expressive movement
  3. A faster rondo

Mozart’s c minor piano concerto, KV.491, deviates from this a bit as the third movement is not a rondo, but a theme and variations.    It is one of only two of his concertos in a minor key, and one of only three where the first movement is in ¾ time.  It also has the most extensive scoring of any of his concertos (in addition to the solo piano, the score calls for flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings).

The c minor concerto is considered  one of Mozart’s most remarkable works.  Beethoven is on record as having expressed his profound admiration for this work on more than one occasion, and its direct influence is inescapable in his own concerto in the same key (No. 3, Op. 37), begun in 1800. One  Mozart scholar, John N. Burk, wrote of the C minor Concerto in his Mozart and His Music, “If Mozart could be said ever to have ignored his public in a concerto and followed completely his own inner promptings, it was here.” To Burke, this work was Mozart’s “ultimate venture, his furthest exploration of the piano concerto, for the three that were to follow were to be a further refinement of what he had done.”

The first movement is dramatic and turbulent, but with the restraint typical of the classical period.  It is dominated almost entirely by the fierce theme with which it opens, and, instead of the usual ceremonial coda, it ends with a dark minimal gesture.   Mozart is often erroneously thought of as harmonically simple, and light in feeling, but both of these points are especially belied here.   There are also hints here of where Mozart may have been developing musically had his life not been cut so short.

The second movement demonstrates how sublime and beautiful a slow movement can be.  The theme is startling in its simplicity, but, in Alfred Einstein’s words, “moves in regions of the purest and most affecting tranquility, and has a transcendent simplicity of expression.”

One thing to note in all the movements, but especially noticeable in the second movement, is the prominence of the woodwind instruments.

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