Episode 7: Mozart's 'Jeunehomme' Concerto, Andantino, Played by Alexandre Tharaud

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K. 271 "Jeunehomme": II. Andantino
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Alexandre Tharaud, piano
Les Violons du Roy
Bernard Labadie, conductor
Available on ArkivMusic

This week on Your Classical Podcast from WQXR, we’re listening to Mozart – specifically, to middle movements of Mozart works. Whether it’s a piano sonata or a symphony or anything in between, something amazing happens in the slow movements of Mozart compositions. What happens is beyond spoken language, although the words “beauty,” “grace,” and even “sublime” come up a lot. The language of music is much richer. But even though words ultimately fail us, it’s worth trying to talk about these middle movements a little bit, because they are so special.

So, what’s the big deal about them? Author Maynard Solomon, in his biography of Mozart, says Mozart’s slow movements cover an enormous range of inner experience. That may be the essence of it. There’s so much of our interior emotional lives in these movements – delicacy, wrenchingly deep feeling, and even contradiction. So much of our humanity in these middle movements.

The first one we have for you is from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9, nicknamed the "Jeunehomme" – “young man” in French – but the concerto was written for a young woman pianist, the daughter of one of Mozart’s friends, whose name was Victoire Jenamy, and there’s been confusion over the name through the years.

Unlike most of Mozart’s middle movements, this one is in a minor key, which makes the melody especially poignant. Conductor Bernard Labadie says it’s like a concert aria for a soprano. He told that to Alexandre Tharaud, and that’s why the pianist began playing it. Hear the two of them, with Les Violons du Roy, in the middle movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9.

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