Piano Concerto No.24

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Concerto No.24 in C minor

K491

Recommended recording

Curated by Maryna Boiko, Primephonic Curator

About this work

During the early part of 1786 Mozart was busily engaged in the process of completing his opera Le nozze di Figaro, which received its premiere at the National Court Theater in Vienna on May 1. Lack of documentation for the winter and spring months of that year means that we do not know if he repeated the series of Lenten subscription concerts he had mounted the two previous years, but they did witness the completion of two new piano concertos, a genre that from 1784 to 1786 can normally be related to such concert series. One of these, No. 23 in A, K. 488, is a work now known to have been started two years earlier, but the magnificent concerto under consideration was an entirely new work. It was entered into his thematic catalog on March 24, and is believed to have been premiered at Mozart's benefit concert at the Burgtheater on April 7, the last concert he would give there.

The popularity Mozart had enjoyed with the Viennese public as a performer would henceforth start to decline, the C minor Concerto the penultimate of the great series of piano concertos composed for his concerts between 1784 and 1786. One of only two concertos composed by Mozart in a minor key, it is a work that reflects the increasing density and complexity of Mozart's music, the development of a style that already perplexed many of his contemporaries. What, for example, must they have made of the stormy, Beethovenian drama of the opening Allegro, or the chromatic intensity that pervades the concerto?

The autograph score, housed in the British Library, also shows thoroughly uncharacteristic signs of struggle, particularly in the final movement where Mozart attempted several versions of the third variation without ever attaining a resolution. The very full orchestration, the largest forces Mozart ever wrote for in a concerto, is commensurate with the size and power of the work -- flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings.

Done