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8.553518 - MOZART: Piano Duets, Vol. 1
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
It was during the period of some eighteen months that the Mozarts spent in London that Wolfgang wrote his Sonata in C major, K. 19d, which he seemingly performed with his sister at a concert on 13th May 1765 at Hickford's Great Room in Brewer Street, an event advertised as 'For the benefit of Miss Mozart of Thirteen, and Master Mozart of Eight Years of Age. Prodigies of Nature...With all the Overtures of this little Boy's own composition ...Concerto on the Harpsichord by the little Composer and his Sister, each single and both together...' The sonata was apparently intended for a two-manual instrument by Burkat Shudi (Tschudi), since duet performance on a single-manual instrument brings some conflict between the right hand of the player of the lower part and the left hand of the upper player. The Mozart children played on a Shudi harpsichord newly built for Frederick the Great and not yet despatched to Potsdam. The first movement, inevitably derivative, follows convention in its opening Allegro with a repeated exposition and development, before the return of material in a final recapitulation. The second movement is a Menuetto, with an F major Trio. The sonata ends duly with a Rondo in which the necessary episodes of the form appear with clear definition. These culminate in a sudden pause, a brief Adagio and the final return of the principal theme.
The Sonata in D major, K. 381 was written in Salzburg in 1772, conjecturally dated to the beginning of that year. Leopold Mozart and his son had returned in December from a second visit to Italy, where Wolfgang's dramatic serenata Ascanio in Alba had been performed, a commission from the Empress Maria Theresia for the marriage of her son, Archduke Ferdinand, governor of Milan. Their return to Salzburg coincided with the death of the Archbishop, who was to be replaced by a less indulgent patron, although a further journey to Milan for a new opera for the court was unavoidably permitted. In the course of the year Archbishop Hieronymus von Colloredo was elected and installed and Mozart himself was, in August, given paid employment as concert-master, a title that he had up to then held in name only.
The sonata, the work now of a mature composer, again has a repeated exposition, a brief development that explores new keys and a recapitulation that brings back the two contrasting themes, before development and recapitulation are repeated. The G major Andante, similar in form, marked by the ever-present Alberti bass, has a central section in which one player briefly imitates the other, before the return of the themes and coda. The final Allegro molto starts brightly and follows a similar pattern.
Mozart wrote a further duet sonata in Salzburg in spring 1774, but only returned to the form after he had settled in Vienna. Dissatisfied with his position in Salzburg, he had unsuccessfully sought employment elsewhere. Eventually, after success with a new opera for the Elector of Bavaria in Munich in 1781, he was summoned by his patron to Vienna and there quarrelled, abandoning his position at the Salzburg court and at the same time losing the daily support of his father. In August 1786 he completed another duet sonata and in November completed his Andante with Five Variations in G major, K. 501. The first variation introduces rapider figuration, with a triplet accompaniment to the second and even rapider figuration for the third. The fourth variation is in G minor and the work ends with a final version of some brilliance.
The Sonata in C major, K. 521 was completed in Vienna on 29th May 1787, as it happened, the day after his father's death in Salzburg. The work was later dedicated to Babette and Marianne Natorp but Mozart had sent it first to his friend Gottfried von Jacquin for his sister Franziska, Mozart's pupil, with a warning of its difficulty. Babette Natorp later married von Jacquin's brother. Composed, therefore, in the year of the opera Don Giovanni, the sonata is a work of some stature. It opens with a forthright call to the listener's attention and an exposition that shares the thematic material equably between the two players, in piano writing that recalls the idiom of the great piano concertos of the period. The exposition is repeated, to be followed by an impressive development and recapitulation. The F major Andante has a more turbulent D minor central section before the ternary opening section restores serenity, capped by a short coda. The last movement, a rondo, starts with a principal theme of restrained cheerfulness that acts as a foil to the varying drama of the intervening episodes, leading to a more extended coda.
In 1791 Mozart provided funeral music for a mechanical organ installed in a mausoleum in honour of Field Marshal Baron Gideon Laudon, a hero of the recent Turkish wars, who had died in 1790. The new gallery was set up by Joseph Nepomuk Franz de Paula Graf Deym von Strzitéz, who some years earlier had opened, under the name of Müller, an art gallery, with a variety of effigies, classical and modern. In addition to this, Mozart wrote other pieces for mechanical clocks, the work of the Esterházy clock-maker, Pater Primitivus Niemecz, also, seemingly, for Count Deym. These include the impressive Fantasia in F minor, K. 608, which bears the date 3rd March 1791. This work subsequently became more widely known in a piano duet version and exercised some influence over later composers in that form. It opens with all the grandeur of a Bach organ fantasia, leading to a four-voice fugue. There is a gentler A flat major Andante, before the stately music of the opening returns, now leading to a more elaborate double fugue.
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