Week43: mozart’s Piano Concerto No.27


There is the sheer sensuous melody, beauty and grace of his earlier concertos; yet there is a more sophisticated tone as well -- not unlike the unique blend Mozart achieved in Cosi fan tutte, a work of the same period. The piano, when it enters with the opening theme again, does nothing to disturb the mood already created by the orchestra in the long introductory passage, though it occasionally turns more dramatic and emotional. The piano writing is distinguished by its lack of virtuosity purely for its own sake; and there is none  of the sense of conflict or competition between orchestra and soloist that typifies many piano concertos. “” robert jackson’s program notes for Piano Concerto in B flat

may was more a series of punches than a month, glorious misses and painful hits abounded. one of those months with constant reminders that however fast you’re running, the river is always faster...it’s indeed for the sake of such scheduled reminders that this weekly journal exists. to have wolfgang amadeus blaring intermittently in the background was the window on the side of a brick wall that i needed. and not just in the background, the month was replete with mozart performances: beginning with the Summerhill Orchestra’s program titled Rachmaninoff and the Lark that included the overture to mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, and ended with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s all-mozart program Denk Plays Mozart (which for the sake of alliteration should have been named Denk Does Amadeus, as well all just how much of the cinematic success of the classic film Debbie Does Dallas is owed to that famous succession of d’s..). anyways, for the first month completely free of winter’s grip, albeit a sluggish hesitating spring thus far, i can’t think of a better accompaniment than a composer whose compositions are that unique blend of play and intrigue, vice and virtue, splendor and austerity etc.  

The resignation and nostalgia which infuse the works of these two years are present in all three movements, even in the 6/8 rondo. It spreads not only a veil of sadness over the whole concerto; it also casts on it at times, as it were, an evening light, announcing the end of a life ...Needless to say, we do not loop upon this as a forewarning of Mozart’s own death; even if he had not been destined to pass away eleven months later, his mood at the close of 1790 would have inspired him with these strains...This resignation is not present all the time; now and again, his soul remembers its rebelliousness of former years and more passionate notes are sounded, but they do not last and weariness soon reigns supreme again…””robert jackson’s program notes for Piano Concerto in B flat

yet another benefit of this weekly schedule of compositions is the luxury of forgetting about a particular compilation, only to rediscover it a year later and be wrapped all over again in its moods and attendant sentiments. the year since, of course, has afforded new interpretations and significance to these same notes and movements, the significance of that aforementioned ‘evening light’ means more to me now than ever. what i realize more-so in this may than in the last is the character of the mozartian piano that is incomparable to any composer on that instrument: a lightness of touch, a fleetingness of being, and a playful wink in every sentence of music...in beethoven, for example, this lightness of touch is nearly extinct, the weight of his es muss sein is imprinted in every chord, in every phrase. that was the thought that began in week41’s Piano Concertos #17 and #21 came back to me this week: a light touch is of paramount importance in anything worth doing. z light touch, the ‘ability to play gracefully with ideas’, are on the list of things i’ve been deficient of in the last little while. for those many and recurrent instances that we find our noses pressed against the pane, pinned to the front-most ridges in the cockpit of our restless locomotive, the benefit of music that reminds us of tall distances and the stretch of marvellous heights, is immeasurable. even the later and allegedly gloomier of mozart’s piano concertos are still abundant with the pour and tors of such easing distances, this Concerto in b flat, the composer’s last piano concerto, is one such instance…


The third and final episode, the rondo (Allegro), offers a late example of Mozart’s ‘hunt’ music, outwardly joyful as in his earlier works yet with an intense yearning, too. This graceful but strong music has the character of an operatic aria. “” robert jackson’s program notes for Piano Concerto in B flat

the first movement, Allegro, makes up a significant portion of the concerto; the orchestra hosts a prolonged development section with multiple subjects examined between horn and string sections until the solo instrument joins in after a clearing in the action. the piano, slow and reverent in mood, amiably incorporates persistent interruptions by orchestra. the piano part is mostly a third wheel for much of that opening segment, merely echoing scraps of material tossed up by orchestra; one particular scrap, a brief quip like a nervous tick---scrr scrr scrr---persists throughout the movement to maintain an unsettled edge in the otherwise placid and pastoral Allegro.

the second movement (Larghetto) grows in the other direction: the orchestra takes a backseat as more domestic sceneries are painted by the solo instrument. it’s delightful parlour music, warm intonations on french horns make for something of that aforementioned evening light that is private but not obstinate---reminiscent of the second movement of his Piano Concerto No.11 (also Largetto). that lightness of touch returns with the final Allegro, a brief affair that plays out in various iterations of a call and response. the call is a knowing smile on the keyboard and the response a carefree round of laughter across the orchestra.


Funk & Wagnalls Recording // Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) // Piano Concerto No.27 in b Flat; Overtures: Cosi fan Tutte, The Impresario, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni

Vienna Volksoper Orchestra, conducted by Paul Angerer. Soloist: Alfred Brendel

Piano Concerto No.27 in B Flat

  • Allegro

  • Larghetto

  • Allegro

A typical B flat work of Mozart’s leaves behind it a feeling of moral well-being, the expression of which is accompanied by playfulness in the first movements and gaiety in the finales. “” robert jackson’s program notes for Piano Concerto in B flat