That new Mozart piece? It is *quite* new

That new Mozart piece? It is *quite* new


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2021

‘Not a fragment,’ says one of the experts about the 94-second piece. ‘It’s a full-standing new work.’

Make your mind up below.


  • La plus belle voix says:

    The Director of Research at the Mozarteum Foundation, Ulrich Leisinger, says the “handwriting looks quite unusual for Mozart”, but “has his characteristics” and “the score was obviously written very quickly”, adding that “the paper he used to write it on was not manuscript paper, but normal sheet paper. He drew the lines of the staves himself. It’s truly a unique piece.” Just saying. Stylistically it is a bit of a potpourri. Head vs. heart. Let the jury decide.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The pieces Mozart wrote posthumously are the best.

  • 18mebrumaire says:

    Rococo wall paper. Could have been written/improvised by any competent 2nd year music undergraduate. Wake me up when someone discovers Symphony 42 K627.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Quite. Do feel it is authentic, taking into account the apparent provenance, too?

      • Jonathan Z says:

        I find most of it rather delightful, particularly in the spirited performance that Mr Cho gives it. But the passage from 0:41 to 1:01 seems to tread water in an un-Mozartian fashion so I am voting for non-authentic.

        • La plus belle voix says:

          Exactly the point at which my ears gave up and I became suspicious. My gut feeling tells me it is — like in the art world — from the “circle of”, “school of” or “circle of” Mozart. My pet theory, although purely speculative and unsubstantiated, is that the opening might well be a long-lost sketch by Mozart, but that the rest was composed by a third party.

    • Anon9 says:

      Over-hyped. Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

  • Anon9 says:

    A Steinway concert grand? Talk about using a sledgehammer to crack a nut!

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      Of course, a quite new piano for a quite new Mozart piece.

      • Stamitz says:

        and of course a Mozart-Specialist on the piano… it’s Staier? It’s Bezuidenhout? Zacharias? No, it’s someone who enjoyed playing Mozart when he was a child….

    • Patricia says:

      Where is Robert Levin when we need him?

    • Aaron says:

      Oh, because if Mozart were alive he would *insist* on playing it on an antique?! Mozart would LOVE Steinway pianos if he were alive today. Even those “period” instruments don’t sound today like they did two hundred and thirty years ago. You think a 230 year old action still performs the same? You think that 230 year old strings sound good?

      • Neil Yates says:

        You’re talking nonsense! Mozart himself said his music sounded sublime on Stein’s fortepianos. Do you think him an idiot? We have close copies of Walter’s and Stein’s fortepianos today made by skilled artisans using all new materials so we do know pretty much how Mozart’s intruments played and sounded. I have performed on one such copy and I can tell you you can play faster, easier and with more clarity than on any contemporary piano. Mozart never heard a modern piano and it is a wild leap of the imagination to think he would prefer our instruments to those he used to compose and perform his pieces!

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Sounds like the teenage Mozart, having recently heard a Scarlatti sonata.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Interesting to read a comment that answers the question uppermost in my mind at least: is it the real thing?

  • Roland says:

    To all those experts who always try to find something to nag: This is a wonderful piece of music, joyful, playful, masterful. What a amazing feeling to listen to it!!

    • Anon9 says:

      I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade. It is a very pleasant piece, and beautifully played.

      But (though I know most SD commenters don’t run with the HIP crowd) I would have preferred to have heard it for the first time performed on the sort of instrument it was written for. This is almost as if the first performance of a newly discovered Chopin nocturne was on a harpsichord, or of a lute piece by Silvius Weiss on an electric guitar.

      And I do wonder whether, if this same piece had been thought to be by, say, Johann Christian Bach, DG would have hyped it or anybody would have bothered to listen. Yet J.C. Bach’s keyboard sonatas are just as delightful as this.

      • Aaron says:

        So you would rather hear the piece on an ancient antique that doesn’t even sound like it used to 230 years ago, rather than a well regulated modern instrument that Mozart would have LOVED had he had the chance to play? I think it is silly to assume that Mozart or Chopin or even Bach for that matter should only be played on period instruments. Sure, Bach didn’t like the piano, but considering that the one time in urine he was able to play on one, it was a shadow of the instrument we know today. Had Bach played on a modern Steinway then I bet he would have quit writing for the clavichord and harpsichord all together.

        • Anon9 says:

          Aaron – no, I enjoy keyboard music of any period played well on a modern piano. Andras Schiff’s Bach is wondrous. But I also like hearing it on the sort of instrument for which it was originally intended.

          I think you make my point for me about Bach. His Italian Concerto, for instance, was written for a two-manual harpsichord. Do you really think he would have written such a piece for a modern Steinway – of course not! This is not to say that it cannot be played brilliantly on a Steinway, only that it sounds quite different (and I think much better) played on the sort of state-of-the-art harpsichord available to Bach.

          It is not, by the way, certain that Bach didn’t like the piano. “Two of [Silbermann’s] pianos were played by J.S. Bach [in 1736], who criticized their construction; Silbermann thereafter improved the instruments, and eventually Bach even acted as Silbermann’s agent in selling a piano.” (Brittanica)

          Indeed Mozart would almost certainly have loved the great pianos of the late nineteenth century, and he would have exploited their possibilities (just as he did with the new clarinet and the more developed French horn). He would not have written a piece like this for them.

          Haydn’s earlier piano sonatas work well on harpsichord or fortepiano (and were written for either); in his later ones he has responded to developments in piano making, and they are no longer harpsichord-friendly.

          You can buy a variety of new fortepianos today (if you can afford it). Strings can be replaced, and actions can be repaired. Original instruments are mostly in museums and played very sparingly.

          To conclude: if Bach and Mozart were alive today, they would probably be in heavy metal bands and in love with the electric guitar.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Agreed, Roland!
      And BTW, I certainly don’t mind hearing it played on a modern piano.

  • Jean says:

    We need a new ’Mozart Complete Edition’ then….
    Otherwise it’s incomplete

  • JussiB says:

    It’s one of the ‘lost’ dances from “Lucio Silla” and Mozart mentioned it in his letter to Nannerl.
    Plain and simple.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Interesting comment! Do you have a link? We might find out more.

      • JussiB says:

        No link, but Dr. Ulrich Leisinger of the Mozarteum discusses it in depth in the 50-minute video on “Seong-Jin Cho plays 94 seconds of new Mozart”. You can probably get a free trial subscription.

        • La plus belle voix says:

          Thanks. I’d be interested in the palaeographic evidence, particularly the hand, seeing there is no stemma codicum in recension terms. Just listening to the piece helps, too. The opening sounds orchestral, like an overture to a lost opera, and the for me at least rather uninspiring middle section calls for some “harmonie”. All in all, I’m doubtful it is the real thing.

  • fflambeau says:

    Austrians and particularly Salzburgers have turned Mozart into a chocolate salesman. This is little more than another marketing campaign.

  • Neil Yates says:

    The pianist plays very well so this comment is certainly not meant to insult him BUT would it not have been much more interesting if the newly found piece were performed on Mozart’s own piano?

  • Roy says:

    Is this written by Kevin Mozart of Potato Street?

  • Alexis P. says:

    No, it is an overture of one of his early operas.