Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Quintet in E flat for Piano and Wind Instruments, K. 452

I - Largo - Allegro Moderato; II - Larghetto; III - Rondo. Allegretto

'the concert I gave at the theatre was most successful. I composed two grand concertos and then a quintet which received the most remarkable applause; I myself consider it to be the best work I have ever composed. It is written for one oboe, one clarinet, one horn, one bassoon and the pianoforte. How I wish you could have heard it! And how beautifully it was performed!'

So wrote Mozart to his father in April 1784, towards the end of one of his most successful concert seasons in Vienna. His specification of the instruments for which the Quintet is written highlights the world of difference he saw between Harmonie Musik for pairs of instruments and the Concertante writing used here, whereby the wind instruments, none of which is disproportionately prominent, interplay against the background provided by the piano.

Mozart's mastery of his new medium is immediately apparent in the Largo introduction to the first movement: the piano part is first set against the winds, then patterns of phrase and texture are created to develop tension. In comparison with the two quintets for piano and strings, use is also made of the sustaining power of wind instruments: this is particularly apparent just before the recapitulation of the theme in the second movement. The Rondo culminates in a impressive 'Cadenza in tempo', written out for the whole ensemble. JCC

© 1995 The Arethusa Ensemble