Adagio from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23 (Hélène Grimaud)

Hélène Grimaud plays the “Adagio” from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.23

French classical pianist Hélène Grimaud plays the second movement, “Adagio” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major (K. 488). The piece is recorded for her 2011 album, “Piano Concertos”, her first ever Mozart concerto recording.

Acording to Mozart’s own catalogue, the work was finished on March 2, 1786, around the time of the premiere of his opera, The Marriage of Figaro. It was one of three subscription concerts given that spring and was probably played by Mozart himself at one of these. The concerto is scored for piano solo and an orchestra consisting of one flute, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns and strings. In Mozart’s later works the wind instruments are equal to the stringed instruments, and this is also the case in this concerto.

The concerto has three movements:

  1. Allegro in A major and common time.
  2. Adagio in F-sharp minor and 6/8 time (in later editions, the tempo is listed as Andante).
  3. Allegro assai in A and alla breve (in later editions, the tempo is listed as Presto). In Rondo form.

Hélène Grimaud considers the concerto in A major “probably the most sublime concerto Mozart ever wrote”, with a slow movement that is “an extremely deep and painful expression of longing, where you find the real Mozart.” The concerto was a ‘must-have’ for this collaboration. The concerto in F major K459 is less well-known, but with a very special vitality and a virtuosic finale that is for Grimaud, “pure pianistic pleasure”.

Besides the two concertos, the album includes the beautiful concert aria for orchestra, soprano and piano ‘Ch’io mi scordi di te’, sung by Mojca Erdmann. The aria was Mozart’s declaration of love to the soprano Nancy Storace, his Susanna in the world premiere of “Le nozze di Figaro”. It was composed in 1786, the same year as the Piano Concerto No.23 which it joins here.

You can buy the album from Hélène Grimaud – Piano Concertos on Deutsche Grammophon web site.

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