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8.550449 - MOZART: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 5 (Piano Sonatas Nos 2, 13 and 14 / Fantasia, K. 475)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Piano Sonatas, Vol. 5
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 1ess, 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 on I y 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 Palatine, 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.
In December 1774 Mozart and his father travelled to Munich for the staging of the former's new opera, La finta giardiniera, which was mounted in January with considerable success. In the new year Mozart w rote a set of six piano sonatas, which were to prove of considerable use in his future travels. The second of the set, in F major, opens with a theme, the bass of which is inverted to introduce the second subject in a movement that is in the customary tripartite classical form. The F minor Adagio is in agentie siciliano rhythm and leads to a final Presto in which the second theme serves to introduce the brief central development.
It was not until August 1783 that Mozart dared return to Salzburg to introduce his wife Constanze to his father and sister. On the way back to Vienna the couple broke their journey in Linz, where they were entertained by Count Thun and Mozart, who had no symphony with him, set to work to write a new one. It is thought that the Sonata in B flat, K. 333, was written at the same period. It is a work of particular beauty, with an expressive E flat major slow movement and a finale of limpid clarity.
The keys of C minor and D minor were used by Mozart for two of the greatest of his piano concertos, and the dramatic possibilities of the same keys were explored in the two Fantasias for solo piano. The Fantasia in C minor, K. 475, written in May 1785, was composed as a prologue to the C minor Sonata, K. 457, written in the previous October. Both works were dedicated to Therese von Trattner, wife of Mozart's former landlord. The Fantasia starts with a declamatory figure, which is repeated in ascending sequence and forms the basis of the initial Adagio. An equally dramatic Allegro follows, with a cadenza leading to a gentler B flat Andantino and a brief technical display, before the return of the opening material. The sonata, related thematically to the Fantasia, starts with an ascending arpeggio figure, softly answered. The same figure, now in C major, opens the central development section of the movement. The ornamented aria of the E flat major slow movement explores remoter keys before its final cadenza and conclusion and is followed by a closing movement that remains in the dramatic key of C minor and contains taxing moments of hand-crossing that would defeat a more corpulent player.
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