On 23 December 1785 Mozart confronted the Viennese with sounds such as they had never heard before when he gave the first performance of his Piano Concerto in E flat major, K482
, completed only seven days earlier. In this work he had, for the first time, augmented the standard orchestra (flute, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, strings) by replacing the usual oboes with clarinets — still fairly new as orchestral instruments. The Piano Concerto in A major, K488
, recorded in his catalogue of works as having been finished in March 1786, employs the same forces.
As far back as the 1770s, Mozart experimented in his Serenades with the combination of differing groups of sonorities through the contrast and interplay of strings and wind instruments; in the piano concerto this multi-layered texture is enriched by the keyboard instrument as soloist.
Mozart knew perfectly well what his audience expected of a concerto. In a letter to his father as early as 28 December 1782, referring to the Concertos K413-415, he wrote, “The concertos are half-way between too difficult and too easy — they are very brilliant — pleasant to the ear — of course without being vacuous — every now and again — experts will derive satisfaction — but in such a manner — that the ignorant must also be satisfied without knowing why”. The Concerto in E flat, K482, is built on this principle. In both concertos Mozart combines witty buffo style with gentle melancholy.