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Piano Concerto No 8 in C major 'Lützow', K246
April 1776; composed for Countess Antonie von Lützow

'Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 6, 8 & 9' (CDA67840)
Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos 6, 8 & 9
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Movement 1: Allegro aperto
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Rondeau: Tempo di menuetto

Piano Concerto No 8 in C major 'Lützow', K246
Three months after writing the K238 Piano Concerto, in April 1776 Mozart returned to the genre and composed the Concerto in C major, K246. This time it was for someone other than himself—the Countess Antonie von Lützow, then twenty-six years old. She was the wife of the commander of the Hohensalzburg fortress overlooking the town, but more importantly the niece of Prince-Archbishop Colloredo (the ruler of Salzburg and Mozart’s employer with whom he was later to fall out). Her brother, Count Czernin, was an aspiring violinist and it is possible that some of Mozart’s violin concertos were written for him.

The Countess must have been more than a dilettante, judging from the piece Mozart composed for her. Even if it is less inventive and demanding than K238, it still requires a fluid technique and good musicianship (a few years later Mozart heard Abbé Vogler make a dog’s breakfast of the piece and wrote very amusingly to his father about it). With Mozart the key of C major often resulted in some march-like themes (we think of his concertos K467 and K503), and this is an early example. Much of the attractiveness of the first movement, again marked Allegro aperto, is found in an expressive, ascending subject not initially introduced in the orchestral tutti, but by the piano in bar 57. The left hand has an accompanying role throughout, leaving the right hand to do most of the talking. The second movement, Andante, has been treated unfairly by some musicologists (Girdlestone talks of the piano’s ‘inexpressive meanderings’). I find the middle section, in which the piano sings over a broken-chord accompaniment in the strings, has a beauty that is fragile and very touching.

As in the B flat major concerto, we have a dance for the closing Rondeau. How is it that music that at first glance appears very naïve turns out to be so immensely clever and genial? The theme, in the tempo of a minuet, could not be more civilized and polite. The gestures introduced in bar 39 are of a courtly elegance. Then comes a theme consisting solely of broken chords and rising thirds, with the oboes and horns adding extra colour to the fanfare. There could be nothing simpler, yet it is totally inspired. This is all well contrasted by the much more anxious middle section in A minor with its touches of swirling Baroque counterpoint (to which it seems entirely appropriate to add some ornamentation). Each time the rondo theme re-appears, Mozart ornaments it a bit more, also decreasing the note values in the left hand from crotchets to quavers to triplets. The orchestra follows suit at the end, adding its own ornamented version to bring this concerto to a close.

Mozart left three sets of cadenzas for the first two movements of this concerto: the first are very simple, with just a few flourishes, perhaps for the Countess to play. The second set is slightly more adventurous and could well have been intended for his sister and pupils. Several years later Mozart wrote a third set which are more like the cadenzas in his later concertos. These are the ones I have included in this recording.

from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2011

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