Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) Piano Concerto [No. 23] in A major K. 488
Urtext edited by Ernst-Guenter Heinemann [pno,orch] duration: 26'
solo: pno – 22.214.171.124. – 126.96.36.199. – str
In Cooperation with G. Henle Verlag
EB 10767 is printed in score form; two copies are needed for performance.
You will find the original cadenzas under Mozart, 36 Cadenzas for his own Piano Concertos.
Our edition EB 8579 contains a Ferrucci Busoni cadenza for the Piano Concerto in A major K. 488.
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One of the most frequently performed concertos of all, it was written while Mozart was working on the opera "Le nozze di Figaro." The source situation is clear: the autograph score has survived, and the first printed editions were not published until after Mozart's death.
The editorial quality of the new edition is guaranteed not only by Schiffs sensitive fingerings and stylistically well-grounded cadenzas, but also by the Mozart scholar Ernst-Günter Heinemann to whom Henle has entrusted its urtext editions.
Breitkopf/Henle cooperation means: Each work is edited according to predetermined standardized editorial guidelines. First and foremost among the sources consulted were Mozarts handwritten scores, being the most important sources. In some cases they had not been available when the previous editions were being prepared. Moreover, we know today that in addition to Mozarts own manuscripts, early copies in parts and prints also contain important information regarding the musical text.
Mozart finished work on his Piano Concerto in A major K. 488 on 2 March 1786, the date entered in the autograph thematic catalogue he kept of his own music. It was a period of intense productivity. Despite his labors on Le nozze di Figaro (October 1785 to April 1786), the catalogue also lists the Piano Concerto in Ej major K. 482 on 16 December 1785 and the C-minor Concerto K. 491 on 24 March. Other important works fall into the same period.
Although contemporary evidence is lacking, we may safely assume that Mozart played the A-major Concerto at one of the subscription concerts that he organized for the Lenten season in 1786. Ordinarily he only wrote down his works under deadline pressure before an impending performance.
The three above-mentioned concertos are the first in Mozart’s oeuvre to call for clarinets. The autograph score of the A-major Concerto originally contained the standard pair of oboes. An examination of its paper reveals, however, that Mozart had already started work on the concerto at the end of 1784, for the first four bifolia belong to a paper type that Mozart used in or around that year. They are followed by paper from the period in which he brought the concerto to completion. When he returned to the work in early 1786 after a long hiatus, he crossed out the already notated oboes and replaced them with clarinets. He then proceeded to add the now familiar clarinets as the score progressed. It was Mozart’s habit to begin his scores with a skeletal framework and to fill in the orchestral parts only at a later stage. It is thus entirely conceivable that those sections of the concerto written on earlier paper also contain markings for the clarinets. Mozart added them during the second stage in 1786.
The autograph score gives us further glimpses into the composer’s workshop. Mozart himself entered folio numbers 1 to 26 for the first and second movements. He then numbered the leaves in the third movement from 1 to 24. The second movement ends on the reverse side of folio 25, and folio 26 was initially left blank. (Mozart later used the free space to write out the clarinet reading for the deleted opening theme of the oboes.) Obviously, the third movement originated during a separate stage of the compositional process, otherwise Mozart would most likely have started the third movement on folio 26 and continued the folio numbers. Moreover, several autograph fragments for the Piano Concerto K. 488 reveal that he considered various alternative designs for the third movement. One peculiarity of the first movement is worthy of mention: Mozart integrated the cadenza directly into the musical text instead of writing it down on loose leaves, as was his usual habit with such inserts.
In August 1786 Mozart offered a set of handwritten parts for his A-major Piano Concerto, among other works, to Prince Josef Maria Benedikt zu Donaueschingen. Writing to the prince’s valet de chambre Sebastian Winter on 30 September 1786, he explained that “there are two clarinets in the A-major Concerto. Should His Highness not have any clarinets at his court, a competent copyist might transpose the parts into the suitable key, in which case the first part should be played by a violin and the second by a viola.” Mozart’s worries were unfounded, for the prince’s orchestra had clarinets at its disposal. Still, they reflect his concern for the clarinet as an instrument. The deal came through: K. 488 was one of the works that the prince decided to purchase. The set of parts is no longer extant.
As we can see from the sale of the orchestral parts to Donaueschingen, Mozart was not at pains to see the concerto quickly into print. As a result, despite the many layers mentioned above, the beautifully written, highly legible, and excellently preserved autograph score served as a production master for the first edition published by Johann André. Apart from a few engraver’s errors, this set of printed parts, issued only a few years after Mozart’s death, remained faithful to his original score. Later the autograph passed from the private library of the collector and librarian Charles Malherbe into the holdings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, where it is preserved today in the Music Department under the shelf mark Ms. 226.
Readers are referred to the facsimile edition of the autograph score, published 2005 by Henle (HN 3216). Thanks go out to Prof. Robert Levin and Christian Rudolf Riedel for their valuable advice with regard to problematical readings of the concerto. For further information we recommend: Robert D. Levin, Mozart’s Third Concerto for Barbara Ployer? (in: Mozartiana. The Festschrift for the Seventieth Birthday of Professor Ebisawa Bin, Tokyo 2001, pp. 555–579). The editor wishes to thank the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, for kindly allowing him to consult the original source in the library and for placing copies at his disposal.
Munich, Spring 2008