After the brief overture of this concerto comes an Allegro whose bird song motifs, in a conversation between the organ and the orchestra, have given the concerto its nickname, “The Cuckoo and the Nightingale”.
Haydn’s Symphony No 6 in D major “Le Matin” starts with the depiction of a sunrise and is pastoral throughout the four movements. Barbara Croall performs her new improvisation for pipigwan inspired by bird calls and integrated into Haydn’s work as an extended introduction and cadenzas between movements and at fermatas in the last movement.
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 17 has a theme in the final movement inspired by his beloved pet starling. Musicologists are unsure whether he got the theme from his pet or taught it to him but he notated the starling’s song on a piece of manuscript which is almost identical to the concerto’s theme. This fascinating and personal history of Mozart’s concerto humanizes for today’s audience a composer who lived in the eighteenth century, who loved animals and whose compassion expressed musically remains a model of inspiration.