The Concerto in E flat major, K449 is the first of a series of no less than six piano concertos that Mozart composed in 1784, an extremely successful year for him. Mozart had mastered his livelihood as a freelance artist and established his reputation as composer, performer and teacher in Vienna. His newfound confidence as a composer became apparent in his newly created Catalogue of all my Works
from the same year, with the E flat major Concerto noted down as the first entry on 9th February 1784. This concerto can also alternatively be performed ‘a quattro’ (without oboes and horns). And yet it already marks a distinct departure from the concertos of the year 1783, primarily because of the vast diversity of dramatically changing themes and nuances in the first movement (marked ‘allegro vivace’, an uncommon tempo for Mozart), but also through a rather irregular musical flow that challenges the soloist to provide balance and continuity. The intimate and romance-like ‘andantino’ offers exquisite harmonic surprises, Mozart ventures far away from the home key of B flat, grazes A flat major, E flat minor and D flat major and only via B minor he manages to find his way back to the original key. The last movement, inscribed ‘allegro ma non troppo’, is overall a strictly contrapuntal finale that comes along with wit, subtlety and ease. Yet these moods are clouded twice: first by a fiery C minor couplet in the middle of the movement, and later on by a mysterious drifting to D flat minor, just before a rapid 6/8 stretta conjures up a liberating climax.
from notes by Gottlieb Wallisch © 2013