Mozart Sonata for Piano & Violin in D, K.306

  • I Allegro con spirito
  • II Andantino cantabile
  • III Allegretto

In August 1777, the 21 year old Mozart, frustrated with the limitations of his court employment and the musical environment in Salzburg, sought leave to undertake another European tour, his first as an adult. The archbishop released him from his post as concertmaster of the court orchestra and he was duly accompanied by his mother and sister on a 16 month tour, visiting Munich, Mannheim and eventually Paris. This was the first time he had been separated from his father and the extensive letters between the pair during this time betray the young Mozart’s immaturity and naivety, not to mention a strong hint of arrogance and the constant frustration of failing to secure an income proportionate to his talents.  The party reached Paris on 23 March 1778, the young man soon making clear to his father what he thought of the place, “…really the mud in Paris is beyond all description. To go in a carriage entails spending four or five livres a day, and all for nothing; it is true the people say all kinds of civil things, but there it ends…Besides Paris is much changed; the French are far from being as polite as they were fifteen years ago; their manner borders on rudeness, and they are odiously self-sufficient…”

The Sonata you will hear this evening is from a set of 6 (K.301-306) that Mozart began working on during his last days in Mannheim and completed during first few months in Paris.  This particular Sonata was completed sometime during the Summer months of 1778. Mozart had the set engraved in Paris and dedicated them to the Electress of the Palatinate; this was in keeping with his habit of dedicating works to people who might be able to assist in this early stage of his career. Of the set, the D major sonata is by far the grandest in scale, written in three movements rather than the two of the previous five. The piece has the feel of a concertante and the violin part is elevated to near equal status against the piano.  A boisterous opening movement makes way for a stunningly intimate Andantino before the sheer force of Mozart’s creative talent is let loose in the finale.  This last movement anticipates much of his later operatic writing with a great deal of humour, wit and invention. Mozart even includes a written out cadenza for both instruments at the end of the movement to bring the work to its dramatic climax.

© Nicholas Burns 2011

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