Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Quintet for Piano and Winds in E flat major

Mvt. 2 / K 452 (1784)
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Mozart wrote this quintet during a burst of creativity, with 1784 being the most prolific year of his life. Living as a freelance musician in Vienna, Mozart was busy both composing – with 11 of his now most well known piano concertos written in the two years from 1784 to 1786 – and self-producing concerts featuring himself as soloist. 

In writing a work configured for winds and piano, Mozart was setting himself a challenge: wind instruments were not normally associated with the re ned setting of chamber music concerts, and such a grouping would have come as something of a surprise to his audience. But in demonstrating that they could be as graceful, as appealing, and as versatile as the strings, Mozart not only created what is now considered a masterpiece, but also set a precedent for all chamber music to follow. 

Although the quintet is clearly shaped by Mozart’s appreciation for piano concertos, he takes care to spotlight each instrument in turn, developing the idiomatic language that strongly in influenced his subsequent works.  The first movement’s long introduction lays out a palette of colours from which Mozart expertly crafts the remainder of the work, masterfully shading his musical material in new and exotic hues. The slow and gentle second movement is also in sonata form, but here the winds take the initiative, introducing the main theme. The piano becomes somewhat agitated in the middle section as the music reaches a climax, before resolving into the movement’s home key of B at major. The final movement is a spirited rondo, with the piano set against the winds in a take on a miniature concerto grosso. Before fulfilling the listener’s expectations by returning to the main theme for his closing statement, Mozart employs one final twist, introducing a cadenza-like interlude in which the whole ensemble participates. 

Ensemble

Guest Artists: Kathryn Selby (piano), Omega Ensemble: Alexandre Oguey (oboe), David Rowden (clarinet), Ben Hoadley (bassoon), Michael Dixon (horn)

Video Credits

Audio recording by Fine Music
Omega Ensemble gratefully acknowledges their support
Bruce Terry - Videographer
Greg Simmons - Recording Engineer