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Piano Sonata D major K. 284 (205b)

Editor: Ernst Herttrich
Fingering: Hans-Martin Theopold

The Sonata in D major is the last of the Six Sonatas K. 279-284 that Mozart had in his luggage when he set off for Paris in September 1777. He had already successfully performed this music in Munich, Augsburg and Mannheim, a fact he proudly told his father back at home. He gave the works particularly rich dynamic markings and also found unusual solutions concerning their formal aspect, for instance having a slow Rondeau en Polonaise as the middle movement of the Sonata in D major. The six sonatas, which were previously only published together in the complete volumes (HN 1 and 3), are now all available as single editions with new prefaces.

Mozart dedicated this Sonata to a Freiherr Thaddäus von Dürnitz - which is why it has often been called the Dürnitz-Sonata. It is undoubtedly the best, the most brilliant and the most technically demanding of these six early Sonatas. Understandably, Mozart retained a special affection for it and continued to perform it himself. It was this Sonata of which he said that it sounded incomparable on Stein's new fortepianos.

FIRST MOVEMENT A first version of the beginning of the first movement, written on one and a half pages, was cancelled by Mozart. On the same page, he started anew to write the final version underneath. The thematic material of this opening movement (and to a lesser degree also that of the following movements) is laid out on a more ample, nearly orchestral scale, a departure from the intimacy of the early sonatas. The tremolo effect in measures 13-16 and the unison announcements of the first subject read very much like a piano reduction of an orchestral tutti. The second subject, a supple melodic line, unaccompanied in its opening bar, incorporates a descending chain of first inversions a favourite harmonic formula of the baroque and classical periods. (There are analogous passages in the subsidiary themes in Gluck's overture Iphigénie en Tauride and the first movements of J. S. Bach's Italian Concert). This functions as a solo passage in contrast to the ensuing tutti entries in m.30. The development moves through a circle of minor keys before the recapitulation begins in measure 72.

SECOND MOVEMENT Mozart called the second movement a Rondeau en Polonaise, so it is a dance. The opening four measures from a kind of dialogue (like the theme of the first movement of the preceding G major Sonata), and Mozart subjects them to felicitous counter-statement is heightened by Mozart's meticulous dynamic markings.

THIRD MOVEMENT The last movement of the Sonata is a pianistically rewarding, cheerful set of variations, which, up to the adagio variation, has the character of a gavotte. It shows Mozart's special gift for writing variations at its most brilliant. The superficial impression of a diffuse form does not stand up to a closer inspection: it would not be at all easy to omit one of the twelve variations, or to add an extra one. The adagio variation is on special interest to Mozart scholars, for it gives us some insights into his concept of impromptu ornamentation. The autograph is only modestly ornamented, and Mozart presumably embellished it in performance as his fancy dictated. But a richly ornamented version survived in the first edition, published during Mozart's lifetime, and undoubtedly this embellished version is Mozart's own work. Who else could embellish in such an ingenious way? It illuminates Mozart's ideas on ornamentation in general and in particular.
Paul and Eva-Badura-Skoda
Marken Referenznummer:HN1063
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