Length: c. 29 minutes
Orchestration: 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings, and solo violin
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: January 11, 1924, Walter Henry Rothwell conducting, with soloist Helen Teschner Tas
About this Piece
Rondeau: Tempo di minuetto
Mozart’s Fifth Violin Concerto presents dramatic proof of the kind of advancement the composer made in this genre in a matter of months. It is an expansive composition with a solo part more virtuosic than the others and a design that is highly imaginative. To substantiate the latter, one need only mention the violin’s slow, dreamy entry in the first movement after the orchestra’s expansive, alternately buoyant and tender opening and, in the last movement, the quasi-exotic minor-key episode that has given the Concerto its nickname—the “Turkish.”
The Concerto’s splendors are hardly confined to these two events, distinctive though they are. For example, the orchestra’s first measures do not detail the movement’s main theme but rather, the accompaniment to the main theme, as it is at last presented by the violin after its rhapsodic entry on the scene. Here is an imaginative approach such as only a supremely confident youth would take. Confident too are the minor-key excursions Mozart takes in this movement.
The Concerto’s slow movement is off of that Mozartean vine on which blossomed lyricism of the most insinuatingly tender and ultimately poignant kind. And the finale is blessed with all manner of rondo niceties, only one of which is that extended Turkish section that supplies brilliance, surprise, and humor to an already splendid structure consisting of minuet grace (main theme), whimsy (the figure that trips by way of grace notes up the clef on several occasions, including the Concerto’s blithe ending), and Hungarian flavor (the minor-key third theme). —Orrin Howard