Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Menuetto: Allegretto – Trio
Movement 4: Allegretto ma non troppo
The F major Andante is more pithy, less melodically generous than many of Mozart’s other slow movements. The short, broken phrases of the first theme suggest that here Mozart was consciously imitating Haydn, as does the inclusion of a dramatic middle section in the tonic minor.
According to Constanze Mozart, the Minuet (Allegretto) expresses Mozart’s reaction to the rather painful birth of their first son, Raimund (Mozart was composing in an adjacent room at the time). Up to a point the mood of the music appears to confirm this story, but then what are we to make of the ghostly D major Trio? After the intense chromaticism of the Minuet this strangely fragile, almost mechanically pretty music has a distinctly ironic flavour.
The Finale (Allegretto ma non troppo) is cast in variation form, with a short coda in a faster tempo. The theme itself is curiously ambiguous: conflicting emotions of gaiety and melancholy are aroused by the jaunty 6/8 rhythm and the chromatic D minor-oriented harmonies. The fourth variation, in D major, brings a respite before the unequivocally anguished outbursts of the coda. The final tierce de picardie comes too late to provide any sense of consolation.
from notes by Stephen Johnson © 1991