Episode 8: Mozart's Sublime Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467, Featuring Piotr Anderszewski

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Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K. 467: II. Andante
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Piotr Anderszewski, piano
Sinfonia Varsovia
Piotr Anderszewski, conductor
Available on ArkivMusic

One of the most famous middle movements in all of Mozart’s music is from the Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467. The melody is so basic, so simple, so beautiful, with that little twist that’s like…the thorn of the rose? The bitter that helps you taste the sweet? Human joy that’s never quite perfect? But then it leads us back to a place of contentment and rest.

Underneath that floating melody, the motion never stops. It’s restless down there. Mozart expert C.M. Girdlestone pointed out this background, calling it “perpetual instability” and “morbid disquiet.” Yet, soaring over this unstable foundation, Mozart lifts us into flight with this gorgeous melody. And these contrasting ideas join into something Mozart biographer Maynard Solomon describes as “unrelieved, time-stopping beauty.”

You’ll sometimes see this movement listed with the nickname, “Elvira Madigan,” because it was used a lot in a 1967 Swedish movie of that name, but it has nothing to do with the piece itself.

This is one of those Mozart moments that truly deserves the description “sublime.” Listen to pianist Piotr Anderszewski, conducting Sinfonia Varsovia from the keyboard.

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  • This recording is provided courtesy of Warner Classics/Erato