About this Recording
8.550065 - MOZART: Violin Sonatas, K. 378, K. 376 and K. 296
English 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 -1791)
In 1777 Mozart set out from Salzburg on a journey that he and his father hoped might bring the kind of official recognition that had been singularly lacking since the early successes he and his sister had enjoyed as infant prodigies. At twenty-one he continued to occupy a position at the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg, where his father had long been employed, but sought constantly for wider opportunities, perhaps at the Imperial Court in Vienna, with the Elector Palatine at Mannheim or even further afield.

The journey of 1777 had as its ultimate goal Paris, where Leopold Mozart's friend Melchior Grimm was trusted to further the young Mozart's interests. Leopold himself was refused permission to travel, but his son, as a part-time servant, in the words of his patron the Archbishop, was allowed to leave, accompanied by his mother. The pair travelled to Munich, to Augsburg and to Mannheim, and it was in the last of these places that they were to linger for four months. The Electoral musical establishment was a famous one, with an orchestra that was the envy of many, and there seemed a possible future for a composer in opera. No such opening, however, was to present itself, and Mozart was left, enjoying adolescent dreams of a possible future as travelling opera composer to his inamorata Aloysia Weber, the second of the ambitious Maria Caecilia Weber's five daughters, dreams that Leopold Mozart was quick to try to correct.

In March 1778 Mozart and his mother eventually reached Paris, but there too any permanent success eluded him, while his mother was to die during the course of the summer, leaving her son without even her moderate counsel in the handling of his affairs. Both Mannheim and Paris, however, were to have an effect on Mozart's work as a composer. In the second city he wrote for French taste in a relatively more ostentatious style, while the employment in Mannheim of such skilled musicians in the orchestra was to inspire a number of compositions in which their gifts might he demonstrated.

Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 378
Allegro moderato
Andantino sostenuto e cantabile
Rondeau: Allegro

Mozart wrote his Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 378, in 1779, after his return to Salzburg from the abortive journey to Mannheim and Paris. It was the earliest of the sonatas to be included in Artaria's published set of Opus 11 in 1781. The sonata is in the usual form, the violin again sharing equally in the work, although the published title still advertises Sonatas pour le Clavecin ou Pianoforte avec L'accompagnement d'un Violon, indicating the changes taking place in choice of keyboard instrument, and in fact, if not in title, a change in the status of the violin in works of this kind.

The opening Allegro moderato brings the principal theme at first on the keyboard, followed by the violin. Something of the same procedure is followed in the introduction of the second subject, with an increase in dramatic tension through the subsequent choices of key. The development makes use of those wide leaps on the violin that characterise certain writing of the period, echoed by a similar use of the keyboard.

The principal theme of the slow movement, entrusted to the violin on its reappearance, frames a central section of greater tension, moving briefly away form the key of E Flat in which it is set. This is followed by the final Rondeau with a principal theme based on the notes of the arpeggio, with one episode in G minor and a second in an energetic triplet rhythm before the return of the opening theme played in imitation by keyboard and violin.

Sonata in F Major, K. 376 Allegro
Andante
Rondeau: Allegretto grazioso

By the summer of 1781 Mozart's circumstances had undergone a considerable change. Neither Paris nor Mannheim had provided him with honourable court employment, but Salzburg remained depressingly narrow, while his employer, Archbishop Hieronymus von Colloredo, had always proved intensely unsympathetic to Mozart's aspirations. Finally, in June 1781, during the course of a visit by the Archbishop and members of his household to Vienna, Mozart secured his dismissal, unofficially, ignominiously but effectively. He proceeded to try to establish himself in the Imperial capital in independence, relying on the fickle tastes and loyalties of the Viennese public.

The Sonata in F Major, K. 376, was the early fruit of this independence and was published, together with the C Major Mannheim Sonata and four other sonatas for clavier and violin in Vienna in December 1781, described by the publisher Artaria as the composer's Opus 11. The publication carried a dedication to the pianist Josepha von Aurnhammer, Mozart's pupil, who had, it seems, unsuccessfully set her cap at her teacher. He described her in a letter to his father as a suitable model for any artist who wanted to paint the Devil to the life, a woman all too ready to display her more than ample charms. He regarded her father, how- ever, as the best of men, and certainly he had exerted himself to offer help to Mozart in these first days of independence.

The sonata, which was to be followed immediately by another in the same key, takes still further the interweaving of key board and violin, both performing an essential musical function in a dialogue, rather than a mere alternation of thematic material. The first movement, an Allegro, opens with three chords that summon the attention of the listener, followed by a theme entrusted principally to the keyboard, the instrument that announces the opening of the second subject. The short development presents something of this material in a new light, before the return of the three opening chords and the recapitulation of the first section of the movement.

The Andante, in B Flat, again allows the keyboard to present the principal theme, with a running violin accompaniment, before roles are reversed, and the principal melody makes its appearance in another key. After this, the Rondeau offers a cheerful change of mood, replete, as it is, with the kind of music that was to win Mozart such initial popularity in the opera house of Vienna.

Sonata in C Major, K. 296
Allegro vivace
Andante sostenuto
Rondeau: Allegro

The Sonata for Clavier and Violin in C Major, K. 296, was written in Mannheim and completed on 11th March 1778, three days before the Mozarts left for Paris. The other sonatas composed in Mannheim are dedicated to Elisabeth, wife of the Elector Karl Theodor, but the Sonata in C Major, K. 296, was dedicated originally to the daughter of Mozart's landlord, the Mannheim court official Serrarius, and was published in Vienna in 1781. In style, violin and keyboard share the musical interest, the former not merely an optional accompaniment, as in Mozart's early sonatas.

The first movement, marked Allegro vivace, is in the established form for such movements, with a second subject that combines two thematic elements, played alternately by the two instruments. The brief development, which opens with material from the earlier part of the movement, introduces a degree of dramatic tension before the return of the first subject.

The slow movement is in the key of F major and allows the keyboard chief melodic interest in the opening section, a task shared more equitably when the theme re-appears after a contrasting middle section. This is followed by a concluding Rondeau in which the violin at first accompanies the principal theme. Intervening episodes in G major and A minor lead to F major, before the original theme returns, preceded by the second theme now in the key of C major.

Takako Nishizaki
Takako Nishizaki is one of Japan's finest violinists. After studying with her father, Shinji Nishizaki, she became the first student of Shinichi Suzuki, the creator of the famous Suzuki Method of teaching children to play the violin. Subsequently she went to Japan's famous Toho School of Music and to Juilliard in the United States, where she studied with Joseph Fuchs.

Takako Nishizaki won Second Prize in the 1964 Leventritt International Competition. (First Prize went to Itzhak Perlman), First Prize in the 1967 Juilliard Concerto Competition (with Japan's Nobuko Imai, the well-known violist) and several awards in lesser competitions.

She was only the second student at Juilliard, after Michael Rabin, to win her school's coveted Fritz Kreisler Scholarship, established by the great violinist himself.

Miss Nishizaki has performed as soloist at the festivals of Bath, Spoleto, Sofia, Costa Verde, Hong Kong, Chautauqua and Berlin. She has toured Germany, Australia, Bulgaria and the USSR in addition to giving hundreds of concerts in the United States, Canada, her native Japan and South East Asia. She appeared on nation-wide television in the United States (NBC's Bell Telephone Hour), Japan (NHK) and China (China Central Television, Beijing).

Takako Nishizaki is one of the most frequently recorded violinists in the world today. She has recorded Grieg's Sonatas for Violin and Piano (RCA); Schubert's "Duo" Sonatas and Franck's A Major Sonata (Balkanton, Eurodisc); an album of music for Violin and Guitar; ten volumes of her complete Fritz Kreisler Edition; many Chinese violin concertos, among them the Concerto by Du Ming-xin, dedicated to her; and a growing number of rare, previously unrecorded violin concertos such as Joachim 's Violin Concerto No.3; Respighi's Concerto Gregoriano and Poema Autunnale; Cesar Cui's Suite Concertante; and Anton Rubinstein's Violin Concerto Op. 46

Wolf Harden
This young pianist is one of Germany's most promising talents. Born in 1962, he studied flute, violin and piano from an early age. From 1975 he studied piano with Prof. Eckart Besch and, after graduating from high school, at the Northwest German Music Academy in Detmold.

From 1977 to 1981 Wolf Harden participated in the German Youth Music Competition and won prizes at all levels. Since 1977 he has been receiving a scholarship from the Oscar-and-Vera-Ritter Foundation and, from 1982, from the German People's Foundation.

Starting in 1977, Wolf Harden has been active both as soloist and in chamber music. In 1980 he founded the Fontenay Trio with Michael Muecke and Niklas Schmidt.

He made a number of recordings for radio stations in Germany and Switzerland as well as his first two commercial recordings in 1980. With his trio, Wolf Harden recorded the Pfitzner Piano Trio Op. 8 for Harmonia Mundi in 1981 and this recording was nominated for the Prize of the German Record Critics in 1982.

In September 1982 Wolf Harden gave his debut at the Berlin Festival with the violinist Kolja Blacher, son of the well-known composer Boris Blacher. Solo debuts in Hamburg and Berlin followed in November of the same year.


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