Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: K. 493, Piano Quartet in Eb Major

In 1785, the publisher and composer Franz Hoffmeister commissioned Mozart to write three piano quartets. This was a fairly unusual request. Most commissions for this sort of hausmusik asked for piano trios, but – after a bit of trouble – the experiment turned out worthwhile. For some reason (perhaps that the pieces were said to be too difficult for the intended amateur audience), the commission was cancelled, after Mozart had finished the first quartet, in G minor and was part-way through the second, in E-flat. The story ended up nicely, though: Hoffmeister, who was evidently a generous friend, paid Mozart anyway, and the E-flat piano quartet (K. 493) got finished. It was published later by Artaria, and made it to the public realm. Mozart is in his most excellent Figaro-era (K. 492) operatic form. An beautiful range of characters, drawn together by sly thematic connections, generate conflicts and resolutions of the clearest theatrical sort.

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