Movement 1: Allegro maestoso
Movement 2: Menuetto I
Movement 3: Adagio
Movement 4: Menuetto II
Movement 5: Allegro
In overall layout the serenade follows early Haydn examples: a slow movement framed by two minuets, the whole framed by two fast movements. A marching rhythm – a typical Mozart opening – begins the ‘Allegro maestoso’, but untypical elements soon appear, among them the lack of exposition repeat and the short, somewhat vague, development. Stranger still, the second subject is replaced in the recapitulation by a curious episode announced by horn solo. Mozart rarely did anything without good reason, but these departures from convention seem quite unreasonable. A magical quiet coda, however, makes amends.
The two minuets differ one from the other in style. The first opens with a strikingly ceremonial unison, the second with a smooth clarinet solo leading to playful episodes. Their respective trio sections also offer strong contrasts, that of Minuet I displaying a pleasing character with pulsating horns, while pulsating bassoons accompany a kind of country dance as a centrepiece of Minuet II. Between these minuets lies a seductive Adagio which in melody, harmony, and instrumental resource, holds a place amongst Mozart’s finest inspirations. A high-spirited Rondo with virtuoso episodes closes the work. Mozart’s sly wit delays the third statement of the rondo theme for so long that one wonders whether it will ever reappear.
from notes by Robert Dearling © 1996