The Classical Concerto

Chapter 13:
Other Classical
The Classical
Key Terms
Classical concerto
Classical concerto
movement plan
Orchestra exposition
Solo exposition
The Classical Concerto
Not identical to the Baroque concerto, but
some features were retained
• 3 movements – fast, slow, fast
• Solo virtuosity
• Contest between soloist & orchestra
Contest heightened in Classical concerto
• Soloist’s agility, brilliance, & expressiveness
• Large orchestra’s power & variety of color
• Soloist & orchestra held in perfect balance
Symphony Movement Plan
I – Moderate to fast tempo; Sonata form
• Sometimes with slow Introduction
II – Slow tempo; Various forms used
• Sonata form, variations, rondo, or other
III – Moderate tempo; Minuet form
• A triple meter dance
IV – Fast tempo; Sonata or rondo form
Concerto Movement Plan
Similar to symphony movement plan
• Minuet movement omitted
I – Moderate to fast tempo
• Double-exposition sonata form
• Long movement with cadenza near the end
II – Slow tempo; Various forms used
• Sonata form, variations, rondo, or other
III –Fast tempo; Rondo form favored
• At times variation form, but never sonata form
Double-Exposition Form (1)
Extended variant of sonata form
• Capitalizes on solo vs. orchestra contest
Two expositions are used in place of the
usual repeat of the exposition
Orchestra exposition
• Announces the main themes in the tonic key
Solo exposition
• Presents the same themes & some new ones
• Adds a real bridge, modulates to second key
• Often longer than orchestra exposition
Double-Exposition Form (2)
Development serves same dramatic
function here as in sonata form
• Orchestra vs. soloist contest heightened
Recapitulation a composite of orchestra &
solo expositions
• Orchestra’s cadence theme given greater
• Pause for a solo cadenza just before final
statement of cadence theme
Double-Exposition Form (3)
Mozart, Piano Concerto in A
Written during his Vienna years in 1786
Typical Classical concerto
Three nicely contrasted movements
• I – One of his most gentle & songful 1st
• II – Almost tragic in mood
• III – An exuberant & sunny finale
Mozart, Piano Concerto in A,
I (1)
No fewer than 4
gentle, songful
• Theme 1, Theme
2, Cadence theme,
& new theme
Small orchestra
enhances effect
• Keeps clarinets,
but no trumpets or
Mozart, Piano Concerto in A,
I (2)
Orchestra exposition sets the mood
• Presents themes 1 & 2 and cadence theme
• Frequent contrasts between gentle theme and
agitated answer – e.g., f response
Mozart, Piano Concerto in A,
I (3)
Solo exposition features solo piano
• Expands on orchestra exposition
• Adds modulating bridge & a new theme
Development emphasizes contest
• Rapid-fire dialogue
• Theme fragments & frequent modulations
Mozart, Piano Concerto in A,
I (4)
Recapitulation blends the two expositions
Piano & orchestra share theme 1
Bridge now returns to tonic key
Beautiful extension of new theme
Varied solo cadenza written out by Mozart
Orchestra answers with f response
Ends with cadence theme from 1st exposition
Derives from symphony movement plan
• Double-exposition sonata form; no minuet
Some features of Baroque concerto
• Solo vs. orchestra dialogue
• Ritornello-like f response
Many unique features
Profusion of themes – “pleasing variety”
Dramatic contest between piano & orchestra
Virtuoso, “operatic” writing for solo piano
Improvisatory nature of cadenza