Acclaimed for her interpretations of works by Schubert, Schumann and Beethoven, pianist Mitsuko Uchida is especially revered for her Mozart performances and recordings.

A favorite guest artist at Symphony Center, Uchida will join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under Riccardo Muti, in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 for concerts May 9-11. She believes this work was pivotal in Mozart’s musical development.

“I do feel that something remarkable happened to his music between the B-flat Concerto, K. 456 [No. 18], which is so lovely, and the D Minor Concerto, K. 466 [No.20],” she said in a recent interview with the site Classic FM. “This one, and K. 467 in C [No. 21], the one we now call ‘Elvira Madigan’ — everything is suddenly in a different dimension. Mozart has made this astonishing leap. There’s an immensity about this music, and in the great concertos that followed. And then in the last one, K. 595 in B-flat [No. 27], his style becomes simpler again. This too is something very special.

Uchida often conducts Mozart’s piano concertos from the keyboard, and she feels his music suits this approach.  “I think it’s to do with Mozart’s idea of how the concerto form works. From Beethoven onwards, composers saw the concerto as a kind of contest between the soloist and the orchestra. But with Mozart, they’re very much partners. The music is like an ongoing conversation between the piano and the orchestra. Either one might take a different line on this idea or that one, but the general mood is one of mutual agreement.