AAM News

Animation celebrates the return of Mozart’s Piano Concertos
20 Mar 2023

A new animation, commissioned specially by Academy of Ancient Music, has been released to celebrate the resumption of AAM’s project to record Mozart’s complete works for keyboard and orchestra.

The video, an extract from the second movement 'Andante' from Mozart's Piano Concerto in C Major K467, performed by Robert Levin with AAM and conducted by Richard Egarr, is set to traditional hand-painted rotoscoped animation by artist André Beukes. The film uses nearly 1,500 hand-painted frames to create the finished product, which uses animation techniques influenced by the early visual music pioneers of the 1920s and 30s, and reflects the iconic Paul Klee image used on the album's front cover.

AAM’s founder Christopher Hogwood and the scholar-pianist Robert Levin came together in 1993 to record Mozart’s complete works for keyboard and orchestra for the first time ever on period instruments. Levin’s interpretation restored improvisation to its rightful place at the heart of each composition. All concertos were recorded with improvised cadenzas, and decorative ornamentation was applied throughout, recreating the approach Mozart would have taken.

Over the course of seven years, Levin and AAM produced eight albums in this style, featuring 17 of Mozart’s concertos, a body of work hailed by the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Historical Performance as ‘the historical performance movement at its absolute zenith’. Sadly, the series was then put on indefinite hold in 2001 because of the changing fortunes of the record industry.

Now more than 20 years since the last release, AAM and Robert Levin are finally completing the cycle with new recordings made over the course of 2021–22. This new release, with Piano Concertos No. 21 in C Major K467 and No. 24 in C Minor K491, will be followed by the final four albums, featuring not only the numbered concertos, but also lesser-known works for keyboard and orchestra, as well as a new discovery and completed fragments.

"It is widely accepted that Mozart would have improvised much of his solo keyboard parts in performance (the manuscript scores can be quite sketchy) and Levin is the leading exponent in recreating the Mozart style on the spot. Throw in expressive playing from the AAM and these performances have plenty of character, the C Major bright and spirited, the dark C Minor foreshadowing the Romantic era. The remaining four discs are eagerly awaited."
★★★★★ Financial Times

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Animation and photography by André Beukes.

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