Mozart Day Nr 1

Solti Hall

Mozart: Piano Sonata in F major, K 332
Featuring: Dénes Várjon 

Mozart: Sonata for Violin and Piano in B-flat major, K 454
Featuring: Dénes VárjonHenning Kraggerud

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major, K 332

The composition was published in Vienna (1784) along with two other sonatas (C major, K 330; and the A major, K 331, famous for its closing Turkish rondo). Earlier, it was thought that the F major sonata dated from the late 1770s during the time Mozart was in Paris, but it is now believed that Mozart composed it in 1783, on a visit to his home in Salzburg, so that he could introduce his young wife Constanze to his father. The structure of the first movement shows characteristics of the sonata strategy, yet there are several surprises. It cannot escape our attention how the first subject group of the exposition raises such diverse musical material of thematic significance in itself; that the key (C major) of the second subject group is attained by targeting C minor; and that the characteristic, syncopated rhythm and typical dynamic image of the transition before the codetta hides within it so many compositional opportunities. Mozart developed the latter in the middle part of the sonata.

The B-flat major Adagio is noticeable for its gracefulness and fine lyricism. The movement clearly illustrates Mozart’s skills in embellishment. The existing copy of the work in manuscript is full of musical ornamentation, while Mozart inserted further ‘baubles’ in the printed sheet music edition (perhaps at the behest of the publisher). The critical edition of the composition publishes both versions, thus the performer of this sonata can decide which one he/she wishes to play, or even a ‘personalized’ combined form selecting elements from both versions.

The magnificent, virtuoso finale is not in the form of a rondo but (similarly to the first movement) it follows the sonata form.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sonata for Violin and Piano in B-flat major, K 454

The B-flat major sonata was written in Vienna in April 1784. The work was created for Regina Strinasacchi (1761-1839), violinist and guitarist of Mantua. Strinasacchi studied music in the same Venetian school (Ospedale della Piétà) in which Antonio Vivaldi had earlier taught for very many years. The premiere was planned for a concert in Vienna by the Italian guest artist, one week after the work was completed, but the composer only had sufficient time to write out the violin part; thus, Mozart sat down and played the piano part with a blank sheet music. The performance, preceded by not a single rehearsal, was a huge success. According to Constanze, Emperor Joseph II was present at the performance and – peering through his opera glasses – he spied that Mozart was playing from memory. He sent a message to the composer requesting him to attend along with the sheet music, whereupon Mozart was forced to confess. It is likely, however, that the emperor was more amused than annoyed!

The prologue to the first movement, the Largo, is reminiscent of Mozart’s piano fantasias. The first subject of the following Allegro presents the two instruments in unison. As well as the virtuoso piano part, the violin is also frequently given melodic solos. The second movement clearly shows this sonata was written for the great violinist. The grandiose closing movement is noticeable for its counterpoint structure and consistent three-part material nearly all the way through.