Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 12 in A-major, K. 414

by Max Derrickson

(Johann Chrysostom) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart    (b Salzburg, January 27, 1756; Vienna, December 5, 1791)

Piano Concerto No. 12 in A-major, K. 414

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante
  3. Allegretto

The fact that Wolfgang Mozart, one of Music’s most beloved figures, needed to convince the city of Vienna that he should be regarded both as a virtuoso pianist and a composer tells us something about the world of music in that city in 1782.   [. . .]    just after he had settled permanently inVienna and gotten married, Mozart was determined to win the fickle city over with three extremely charming piano concertos, numbers 11, 12 and 13.

Of these, and regarding the refinement of his Viennese listeners, Mozart wrote his father that the concertos were “. . . a happy medium between what is too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural without being vapid.  There are passages here and there from which the  . . . connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why.”

The Piano Concerto No. 12 is certainly pleasing to the ear, and anything but vapid.  Charming and perfectly urbane, the first movement begins with a delightfully spirited theme which is then taken up by the piano soloist.    [. . .]

“For the connoisseur,” the second movement begins with a nearly direct quote of part of a theme written by Johann Christian Bach (son of Johann Sebastian Bach).   [. . .]

The Allegretto completes this concerto with a wonderful Rondo which allows the orchestra and piano to trade and play with several themes, all accomplished quite cleverly and stylishly.  Including some charming little piano cadenzas, the movement is immensely refreshing, and brings this delightful concerto to a refined, yet energetic close.