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8.550446 - MOZART: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2 (Piano Sonatas Nos. 9, 12, 16 and 17)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Piano Sonata in D Major, K. 311
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the youngest child of Leopold Mozart, author of a well known treatise on violin-playing and a musician in the service of the ruling Archbishop. Leopold Mozart was to sacrifice his own career in order to foster the God-given genius he soon perceived in his son. A childhood spent in successful tours throughout Europe, in which the young Mozart demonstrated his skill on the violin, and on the keyboard in improvisation and in performance with his sister Nannerl was followed by a less satisfactory adolescence at home in Salzburg. Mozart's talent was none the less, but there seemed little opportunity at home, particularly after the death of the old Archbishop and the succession of a less indulgent patron. In 1777 Mozart and his father, now Vice-Kapellmeister, were refused leave to travel, and Mozart himself resigned his position as Konzertmeister of the court orchestra and set out, accompanied only by his mother, to seek his fortune elsewhere. The journey took him to Augsburg, to Munich and eventually to Paris, but only after a prolonged stay in Mannheim, the seat of the Elector of Bavaria, famous for its musical establishment.
In Mannheim Mozart made many friends among the musicians at court, but neither here nor in any of the other places he visited was there a suitable position for him. The following year, after the death of his mother in Paris, he made his way slowly back to Salzburg, where his father had found him another position at court that he retained until 1781, when he found final precarious independence in Vienna. The following year he married the penniless younger sister of a singer on whom he had first set his heart in Mannheim and won initial success with his German opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail. There were pupils and subscription concerts, and chances to arouse the admiration of fashionable audiences by his skill as composer and keyboard-player in a new series of piano concertos. By the end of the decade, however, his popularity had waned, although there were signs of a change of fortune in the success of a new German opera, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), which was still running at the time of his sudden death in December 1791.
The Sonata in D major, K. 311, was completed in Mannheim in October or November 1777 and may probably be identified with the sonata intended for the two Freysinger girls that Mozart had met in Munich, mentioned in letters to his cousin in Augsburg. Their father had been a fellow-student of Leopold Mozart and had something to say about a man usually seen as a figure of sobriety. "Murder will out", was Leopold Mozart's reply to his son's repetition of Freysinger's reminiscences. The sonata opens with a brightly confident first subject and a more delicately contrasted second subject, with characteristic chromatic appoggiature, followed by a central development that explores remoter keys. The G major slow movement, its principal theme later duly embellished, leads to a final rondo, its opening theme compared by the Italian composer Alfredo Casella to the principal theme of the finale of Beethoven's Violin Concerto.
The well known Sonate facile, the easy Sonata in C major, K. 545, originally described by Mozart as a little sonata for beginners, has enjoyed spurious fame in the present century, its principal theme published in the 1940s under the title "In an 18th Century Drawing-Room", a transformation that did the original little justice. The sonata was completed on 26th June 1788, the day before yet another letter from Mozart to his patient fellow freemason, Michael Puchberg, who continued to lend him money, with little hope of its return. The little sonata is of a particularly transparent texture, with a G major slow movement that has its due share of poignancy and a sprightly final rondo.
The Sonata in F major, K. 332, belongs to the group of three written in 1783 and given to the composer's sister Nannerl before their publication in Vienna in the following year. The sonatas were written either in Vienna or during the course of a summer visit home to Salzburg, during which Mozart introduced his wife to his disapproving family. The principal theme of the first movement is followed by a dramatic link with the C major second theme. The B flat major second movement allows the principal theme considerable embellishment, before the brilliant finale.
Mozart's financial difficulties were no nearer a lasting solution by February 1789, when he wrote out his Sonata in B fiat major, K. 570, which was first published posthumously with an optional violin part. As on other occasions, the composer opens with a principal theme based on the notes of the major triad, later contrasted with a more lyrical theme. The finely wrought E flat major slow movement gives way to a finale of fertile invention.
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