Sometimes referred to as a cassation, this serenade is scored for strings (but not cellos; this music was designed to be played while standing outdoors) and pairs of oboes (doubling on flute), horns, and trumpets.
Often this serenade is prefaced by Mozart's March in D, K. 62; the musicians would literally have marched into the performance area while playing this music. The serenade proper opens with an Allegro with the flair of an opera overture, taking off from a scurrying violin figure.
Next come the work's three key movements. First there's a lengthy Andante, a sweet piece with prominent solo roles for oboe and horn. Indeed, this may be the first music Mozart specifically wrote for Joseph Ignaz Leutgeb, for whom he would later compose his horn concertos. Mozart provides about a minute and a half of easygoing music, repeated in full, before offering a slightly troubled middle section whose problems are eased by a return of the opening material, pausing for a little horn-and-oboe cadenza just before the end.
After this is a Minuet -- the first of three scattered through the work -- for strings alone. The outer sections are in G major and hold to the conventional courtly minuet character of Mozart's time; the central trio slips into D major and brings back the oboes and horns. The ensuing Allegro has the strings leaping and swirling around animated horn and oboe solos; in all but name, this is a sinfonia concertante for the two instruments.
Although Mozart seems to have put his greatest ingenuity into these movements, several more sections follow, still pleasant music if on a slightly lower level of inspiration. There's a march-like Minuet with the wind instruments blended into the ensemble; in the middle they retire for a gentler strings-only trio in G major. A lovely Andante, with a burbling bass line, features flutes soaring overhead (in Mozart's time, the oboists would have doubled on flute).
Yet another Minuet comes next, this one the most exuberant of all; again, the sharply marked rhythm seems almost martial, especially with the rushing violin scales that may be a faint echo of a favorite technique of the period's Mannheim composers. Unexpectedly, the trio here is the most understated of all, reducing the dynamics and tiptoeing through D minor without woodwinds.
The serenade concludes with an exuberant Allegro, a joyful but never hard-driven rondo whose episodes unexpectedly veer briefly into minor keys.