Mozart’s violin concertos occupy a prominent place among his numerous and diverse violin compositions. They were written in connection with his concert activity as soloist and first violinist in the Salzburg orchestra. The great Austrian composer was not only a clavier virtuoso, but a superb violinist as well.
Mozart’s violin concertos belong among his early compositions. In 1775 the 19-year-old composer wrote five violin concertos in succession; in 1777 he completed his sixth one.
These works of Mozart’s affirmed the form of the classical instrumental concerto. The tender and lively melodiousness, brilliant improvisation, capricious and fanciful change of musical episodes, gracefulness and transparency such are the characteristic features of Mozart’s concertos.
Concerto No. 5 in A major is the last of Mozart’s 1775 series.
The first movement (Allegro aperto). A powerful chord of the entire orchestra gives an impetus, as it were, to the entire music. Against the measured “murmur” (tremolo of second violins and violas) sharp, abrupt sounds of the first violins pour forth, imperceptibly developing into the gracefully jocular auxiliary theme. Suddenly the orchestra introduction is interrupted by a “lyrical digression” — an expressive melody of the violin solo with a fanciful accompaniment of the first and second violins (episode Adagio). Only after a lengthy general pause does the soloist set forth the main theme of the first movement, full of energy, vigour and merriment.
The second movement (Adagio). This movement is marked by emotional intensity, overwhelming feeling. Mozart imbues the instrumental melody with the depth and force capable of conveying the most diverse shades of human emotions.
The third movement (Tempo di menuetto), in the form of a rondo, is one of Mozart’s most original productions. The author’s remark states: “In the tempo of a minuet”.
The theme of the rondo played by the soloist is graceful and fragile, one would say, coquettish, a trait so characteristic of the time of intricate hairdos and apparel. Each time it recurs, the theme is embellished by the most intricate melodic ornamentation and ever new musical motives, played alternately by the orchestra and the soloist.
Then the measured dance movement is interrupted by an interlude (Allegro episode in A minor) in double measure with the “stamping of feet” so characteristic of the temperamental folk dance. Nothing is left of former refinement. It seems that the violin has been handed over by a dancing master to a folk improviser, and the music, having broken the bounds of an aristocratic salon, has emerged into the free open spaces.
Suddenly the folk dance breaks off. The theme of the minuet recurs, taking the listener back into the atmosphere of the refined “rococo” style.