Mozart – Piano and Wind Quintet in E-flat, K. 452

by Max Derrickson

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

Piano and Wind Quintet in E-flat, K. 452

  1. Largo- Allegro moderato
  2. Larghetto
  3. Allegretto

This wonderfully clever and charming chamber work was written by Mozart in 1784, a year in which he wrote six piano concertos.  The following year, he wrote three more.  It is safe to say that the composer’s creative proclivity was bent on piano, which, after all, was his solo instrument.  This piano and wind quintet, in fact, was first performed with Mozart at the piano.  Its success was resounding, and the composer himself was rightfully proud of it.  To his father he wrote of how greatly the audience liked the work, saying it “… was the best thing I have written so far in my life.”  And this was said by the Mozart who was between his 37th and 38th Symphonies, and soon to finish his extraordinary opera Figaro.

Although this Quintet may not be as well-known as other great compositions by Mozart, it bears noting that years later it impressed Beethoven so deeply that he wrote his own quintet, for the same instruments, in the same key, and essentially in the same formal structure.

There are good reasons to be as in love with this Quintet as Mozart was.  It is unique in that it plays in many regards like a piano concerto with a four piece orchestra.   [. . .]

The Quintet does allow for the winds to have their due, however, mostly in the luxurious second movement.  Here, too, in this Larghetto, one can hear some incredible cleverness in some of its descending passages, which allow the winds to soar lyrically while the piano ranges through some amazing chord progressions.

The last movement is vintage Mozart lightness, full of charm, grace, and that ubiquitous energy that seems to so define his music.    [. . .]