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Classical 101

A Mozart Moment

ADAM - HAS AUDIO ON IT Not too long ago I wrote about how good it is to take the time to really listen to the music we love, to give it our full attention.  We can't always do this, of course, or some of us wouldn't get much of anything else done. But in addition to those times we might spare an hour in the evening with a favorite work or two, we may still occasionally have one of those magical moments when what was playing on the radio in the background suddenly engulfs us in the sheer beauty of the sound.  Mozart is very good at providing moments like these. I'm sure we all have our own favorite Mozart moments.  Particularly the slow movements of many works contain melodies of sublime beauty. Sometimes they can seem so simple we're not sure why they move us so much.  Are we in a state of child-like innocence when we have these musical epiphanies, or is it a mature wisdom?  I'm not claiming to know. The slow movement of Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor recently had this effect on me.  This concerto from 1785 is one of only two that Mozart wrote in a minor key, and the first movement is quite dramatic right up to the end. Then with barely a pause, Mozart presents us with a simple untroubled melody for solo piano.  He then repeats it, as if to say "listen to this." And then the orchestra comes in repeating the melody louder. And finally, one more time--that's four times! You get the feeling Mozart really wants you to stop and listen to that simple melody before he goes off to develop the 2nd movement, which continues for eight more minutes.  The effect is so arresting that we too want to stop from the drama of our activities and bask in the warm serenity of Mozart's inspiration. Here's a sample played by Murray Perahia with the English Chamber Orchestra: [audio:mozart20]