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Divertimento in E flat major, K252 K240a


The third of the Tafelmusiken is formally the most adventurous work in the series. Mozart begins with a slow movement in 6/8, in miniaturized sonata form, proceeds to the minuet, then interpolates a second dance—a polonaise—to make up for the missing first allegro. The ‘Polonaise’ is in the dominant key of B flat and is quite elaborate, both in its extended second half and brief coda. Only the last movement, ‘Presto assai’, fits the normal mould. (Its coda elicits a rare solo appearance by the two horns.) According to Zaslaw, it may be based upon the folk tune ‘Die Katze lässt das Mausen nicht’ (‘The cat doesn’t give up catching mice’).

There are two fermatas (holds) in the first movement. It is uncertain whether Mozart really wished the top instrument in the ensemble to improvise—often such holds imply improvisation by the principal voice—or whether Mozart was wittily stopping the music for a few seconds to see whether the Archbishop would look up from his plate!

from notes by Robert Levin © 2015
Reprinted from the New York Philomusica synoptic edition of the Mozart divertimenti and wind serenades by permission


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