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ClassicsOnline Home » MOZART, W.A.: Violin Sonatas Nos. 24, 25, 26 / Piano Sonata No. 17 (arr. for flute and piano) (P. Gallois, Prinz)
When he was eight years old Mozart wrote a series of duo sonatas sanctioned for violin or flute and keyboard. Written in London, they were dedicated to Queen Charlotte. The sonatas performed on this disc were written much later for violin but, using that earlier precedent, have been transcribed for flute by one of the world’s greatest exponents of the instrument, Patrick Gallois. Memorably tuneful, they represent different stages of Mozart’s development and are beautifully suited to their new guise.
By Barrett Cobb
New York Concert Review Inc.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)
Violin Sonatas, arranged for flute and piano by Patrick Gallois
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of a court musician who, in the year of his youngest child’s birth, published an influential book on violin-playing. Leopold Mozart rose to occupy the position of Vice- Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg, but sacrificed his own creative career to that of his son, in whom he detected early signs of precocious genius. With the indulgence of his patron, he was able to undertake extended concert tours of Europe in which his son and elder daughter Nannerl were able to astonish audiences. The boy played both the keyboard and the violin and could improvise and soon write down his own compositions.
Childhood that had brought Mozart signal success was followed by a less satisfactory period of adolescence largely in Salzburg under the patronage of a new and less sympathetic Archbishop. Like his father, Mozart found opportunities far too limited at home, while chances of travel were now restricted. In 1777, when leave of absence was not granted, he gave up employment in Salzburg to seek a future elsewhere, but neither Mannheim nor Paris, both musical centres of some importance, had anything for him. His Mannheim connections, however, brought a commission for an opera in Munich in 1781, but after its successful staging he was summoned by his patron to Vienna. There Mozart’s dissatisfaction with his position resulted in a quarrel with the Archbishop and dismissal from his service.
The last ten years of Mozart’s life were spent in Vienna in precarious independence of both patron and immediate paternal advice, a situation aggravated by an imprudent marriage. Initial success in the opera-house and as a performer was followed, as the decade went on, by increasing financial difficulties. By the time of his death in December 1791, however, his fortunes seemed about to change for the better, with the success of the German opera The Magic Flute, and the possibility of increased patronage.
Of the duo sonatas Mozart wrote as a child, during his long tour of Europe, the group issued as Opus III, written in London and dedicated to Queen Charlotte, allow for use of violin or flute with the piano. The publisher announced Six Sonates pour le Clavecin qui peuvent se jouer avec l’accompagnement de Violin ou Flaute Traversière, adding the dedication to the Queen and the age of the composer, eight years old. A later edition allowed the participation of a cello. The transcriptions by Patrick Gallois of four sonatas of Mozart’s maturity for flute and piano offer works in a very different form.
The Sonata in F major, K 376, was the early fruit of Mozart’s independence of Salzburg and was published in Vienna at the end of November 1781, together with five other sonatas for clavier and violin, described by the publisher Artaria as the composer’s Opus II. The publication carried a dedication to the pianist Josepha von Auernhammer, 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, however, 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 keyboard and violin, the latter’s rôle here taken by the flute, 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 accompaniment from the flute, before rôles 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 Burgtheater opera house in Vienna.
Mozart entered his Sonata in B flat major, K570, into his list of compositions in February 1789, describing it as “Eine Sonate auf klavier allein”. It was published posthumously in Vienna in 1796 by Artaria as “Sonata per il Clavicembalo o Piano-Forte con l’accompagnamento d’un Violino” and was known for a long time in this form. The arrangement for violin and piano, in which the violin either offers an accompaniment or doubles the piano melody, has been variously credited, but is no longer supposed to be the work of Mozart. It opens with a sonata-form movement, its second subject formed by an addition to the opening figure of the first. This is followed by an E flat major Adagio, its first section serving to frame two intermezzi, the first in C minor and the second in A flat major. The sonata, Mozart’s penultimate work in this form, ends with a rondo.
Mozart’s Sonata in F major, K377, written in Vienna, is one of the set of six that he dedicated to Josephine Auernhammer. By 19 May 1781 he is still excusing himself to his father for his rash action in securing his dismissal from the service of the Archbishop. At the same time his usual optimism is revealed in the subscription he has opened for the new sonatas. The set was finished during the summer and published by Artaria in November. The flute here provides a rapid triplet accompaniment to the first theme of the opening Allegro and introduces the second theme in a movement dominated by the triplet rhythm. The theme of the D minor slow movement is announced first by the piano and then shared with the flute. There follow six variations, the first with a flute accompaniment to the piano, the second dominated by flute triplet semiquavers and the third by rapid piano figuration in accompaniment of the flute melody. The fourth variation makes much use of the ascending scale, the fifth is in D major and the sixth is a Siciliana, now once more in D minor. The last movement is introduced by the piano, followed by the flute, the piano again, then both instruments together in a movement that brings a passage of dramatic piano arpeggiation and a modulation to B flat major, before the return of the original material.
The Sonata in B flat major, K 378, is an earlier work, written in 1779, after Mozart’s return to Salzburg from his abortive journey to Mannheim and Paris. It was the earliest of the sonatas to be included in Artaria’s published set of Opus II in 1781. The sonata is in the usual form, the flute, in the present transcription, now 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 flute. 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, in the original version, of those wide leaps 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 flute 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 flute.
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