Hard to believe, but some of the most elegant concerti ever written for the violin were actually written by a 19-year-old, over the course of less than a year! That's right, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his five concertos at a rather young age, all in 1775.
The most-played and most-studied of them are Concerti 3, 4, and 5. All have that Mozartian characteristic of sounding graceful and straightforward, while being deceptively difficult to play cleanly and in the proper style.
Which of these concerti is your favorite? What are your favorite recordings of them? Do you have a favorite live performance that you attended? Please cast your vote and tell us about it in the comments. And, if there are any of these concerti you have not heard, below are a few videos.
Below is a lovely recording of Henryk Szeryng, playing Mozart concerti nos. 1, 2 and 3. The first one is at the beginning, followed by No. 2 at 21:14; and No. 3 at 42:04. What are your favorite recordings of Mozart concerti?
Here are 4 and 5, too, in case you are in the mood to keep listening! (4 at the beginning, 5 at 23:54)
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My favourite of all is actually (cheating a bit) the Sinfonia Concertante K364. Miles ahead of the solo concertos as a composition - not to take anything away from them. I like K250 as well.
My first favorite is No. 5, K219 and in second place No. 3, K 216.
My favorite interpreters are : Wolfgang Schneiderhan for K 219 and Yehudi Menuhin for K 216.
I don't actually have one favorite -- I like each of them for different reasons. But 3 will always be special to me, because it was the first one I studied. Didn't attend any live performances of it but greatly enjoyed one of Hilary Hahn's performances, which I've played on YouTube several times. With today's audio and video technology, it's almost like being right there.
I only ever studied No. 3, but the best memory is being a student in the chamber orchestra that accompanied Henryk Szeryng playing No. 5. If I remember correctly, faculty members were also in the orchestra.
"KALAMAZOO Violinist .Henryk Szeryng, Mexican ambassador of culture, will perform with [members of] the University Symphony Orchestra Tuesday. [Dec. 18, 1973] Also during the concert, Szeryng will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from Western Michigan University."
Concerto #2 in E major for violin and orchestra, BWV 1042 / Johann Sebastian Bach --
Divertimento in D major for string orchestra, K. 136 ; Concerto #5 in A major for violin and orchestra / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart."
Being from an older time period myself, the Arthur Grumiaux recordings were always favorites....then the famous Oistrakh recording of #4 with the knucklebusting flamboyant cadenza. As mentioned, latest recording technology and precision albeit sterile technique, have pretty much rendered current performances quite similar...with the variants being in the cadenzas. However, the composer remains a genius the world will never experience again.
Why is there no button for "I can't decide, they are all equally beautiful?" Really Laurie, asking us to choose a favorite Mozart concerto is like asking us to choose a favorite child! :)
I have recordings of David Oistrakh playing all 5 Mozart concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante, and I love them. My favorite concerto is #5 but I couldn't say why. They're all beautiful.
My favourite is definitely No.1 !
I don't really have a favorite but I ticked the oft-neglected #2 because of certain personal associations I've had with it: I grew up with the exquisite Grumiaux record of it; (-I also grew up with the solid Isaac Stern recordings of nos. 1 & 5, the brilliant Heifetz recording of #4 and heard a lovely live performance of #3 by Menuhin, but somehow for me, Grumiaux and Mozart were and are like a horse and carriage-) it's the first of them that I wrote my own cadenzas for (- I've since written cadenzas for all of them-) and it's the only one so far that I've performed with orchestra.
As I said above, I couldn't pick an overall favorite Mozart concerto but I have a couple of favorite movements: I couldn't choose a favorite 1st mvt. but my favorite 2nd mvt. is from #5. My favorite last mvt. is the brilliant finale of #1. I seem to recall reading somewhere that it is thought that he wrote it later as a replacement for an earlier effort.
I wish I could go back in time and commission a concerto from Mozart. It would be (if he agreed) a larger scale work and in a minor key, along the lines of his D minor and C minor piano concertos. Imagine!
Raphael - one of the few disappointments in Mozart's illustrious composition career is that he abandoned concertante string works with K364. As you say, what have we missed. I suppose we can forgive him, given the magnificent series of piano concertos and the string chamber music - not to mention a few operas..... My favourite solo concerto recording is No3 with Oistrakh and Ancerl - late 1940's(?), but respectable recorded sound. But I too would settle for the Grumiaux recordings.
The second movement of No. 3 is just so amazing, incredible. And then the third movement is this crazy hilarious thing... I just had to vote for the No. 3 even though just comparing 1st movements I would have picked No. 5.
I picked no 5 over no 4 because of the last movement, but as with Peter, the Sinfonia Concertante tops them all, through its slow movement, with which the others hardly even compare.
There is another unfinished Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and 'cello, of which I saw the first page in a museum in Vienna, but I gather a bit more exists of it than I saw, over a hundred bars. Pity he didn't get to writing its slow movement!
"Compositional Strides" is a bit of an oversimplification - Certainly #1-2 are less mature than the others, but there's character differentiation going on. #3 is Mozart's Operatic Concerto, more than the other violin concertos.
Sometimes I wonder if the pace of writing a slow movement differs from that of an allegro.
@Paul, quite possibly; there is often a lot more fine detail in a slow movement that the composer needs to think through.
There are also Mozart's other works for violin and orchestra, such as the Rondo in C (I don't have the K number to hand) which makes me wonder if it was part of a lost, unfinished or discarded concerto.
I heard that re the Adagio in E.
Talking of unfinished Mozart - there are two violin concertos in various states of incompleteness (in D and E-flat K268/K271i). I'm no scholar so I don't know the details, but I have a recording of the reconstructions/orchestrations. Anyone know anything about them? I've never heard of a performance. There's the usual speculation about why he never finished them - my own suggestion, based on hearing them, is that at some point he realised that they were not up to the standard of the rest of the concertos and abandoned them.... For me they would not replace any of the complete works included in this poll.
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July 22, 2017 at 09:23 AM · And the (other) amazing thing, of course, is not just that he wrote all of these concerti while he was so young, but that he made such incredible compositional strides in so short a time. As Laurie notes, the concerti were all written in a single year -- and yet the difference between No. 1 and No. 5 is so huge that one might intuitively think they were separated by at least 2 years!
It would have been good to see the Haffner Serenade K. 250 on this poll. (I still would have voted for K. 219, which I like a bit better, but K. 250 may be/contain his most mature violin concerto of all. At least until K. 364, that is...)