an introverted piano concerto
The piano concerto was one of the genres in which Mozart excelled - both in the number of compositions and in their quality. The basis for the genre was laid around 1730 by Johann Sebastian Bach, and continued by his sons Carl Philipp Emmanuel and Johann Christian. Mozart responded to this, modelling existing and new form principles into a dramatic genre in which virtuosity and attention to aesthetics keep each other in balance. And while the Bach family were still composing for the harpsichord, Mozart was fortunate enough to have a new instrument at his disposal: the pianoforte, which, thanks to its hammer mechanism, was capable of dynamic nuances.
Mozart completed his Piano Concerto no.23, K 488 in La major, on 2 March 1786. It is one of his more sensitive works, and the introvert atmosphere forms a great contrast with the tragicomic opera Le Nozze di Figaro, which he was finalising at the time. This is particularly evident in the poignant second movement, an Adagio in fa cross small. Mozart used this key in his complete oeuvre only in this piece. Also remarkable is the orchestration of the piano concerto: Mozart replaced the oboes with two clarinets, leaving out trumpets and timpani. The typical timbre of the clarinet creates an intimate, melancholic tone. In a letter to Prince Josef von Fürstenberg, the composer stated that the part could also be played by a violin and viola if the prince did not have clarinets at his disposal. It would soon become a favourite of the public.