These two concertos, along with No.14, form an opus which Mozart referred to as “grand concertos” By grand, I guess he is referring to the form: all three concertos have long, wonderful introductions before the soloist enters. They also contain extensive writing for the winds, a major stylistic development which he also employs in his later operas and last three symphonies.
He initially planned to not publish these concertos right away, but to only make them available to himself and his patrons. In the end, they were not published during his lifetime.
Mozart rarely wrote cadenzas or ornamented versions of the piano parts; however, honouring a request to his sister (to whom he had sent a copy of Concerto No.16) he wrote eight bars of ornamentation for the middle movement and well as cadenzas for the first and third movements. These give us a rare glimpse into how Mozart expected other pianists to perform these works.
If you’re keen to experience this first-hand knowledge, then have a listen to this recording!
W.A.MOZART: PIANO CONCERTOS
Piano concerto No. 16 in D major, K 451
Piano concerto No. 15 in B flat major, K 450
Rondo in D K 382
Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano
Michael Alexander Willens, conductor
Eine Co-Produktion mit Deutschlandfunk