Serenata Notturna

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Serenata Notturna in D major

K239 • “Serenade No.6”

About this work

This work is scored for a very unusual ensemble: a solo quartet of two violins, violas, and string bass on one side, and a larger group of violins, violas, cellos, and timpani on the other. The use of the term "notturn"' in the title refers to a piece that was intended to be played at night rather than one that necessarily evokes nocturnal atmospheres.

The opening maestoso march makes much of the contrast between the opening fanfarish motif and the subsequent, more flowing singing lines. One intriguing section in the second half features timpani along with pizzicato strings, seemingly laughing at the fanfare's inherent grandiosity. A minuet follows where mock-bombast alternates with graceful elegance, and an exquisitely poised allegretto rondeau with a few surprises rounds things off.