Piano Sonata G major K. 283 (189h)
Urtext Edition, paperbound
Detailed critical commentary
(not available in the printed editions)
available free-of-charge: Download
Pages: 19 (V, 14), Size 23,5 x 31,0 cm
Order no. HN 601 · ISMN 979-0-2018-0601-3
Level of difficulty (Piano): medium (Level 5/6)
FIRST MOVEMENT The fifth sonata K 283 (189h), in the pastoral and joyous key of G major, is especially popular; it again displays novel ideas, musically and pianistically. The diversity of its melodic invention is highly typical of Mozart, and so is the clear-cut sonata form of the first movement. The very first idea is a marvel of folkmusic-like invention. The opening theme and its continuation is an interplay of question and answer with the final response in baroque hemiola rhythm (a sudden 3/2 meter interpolated in a 3/4 movement). The ornamented unison passage which follows (mm. 16-22) is superbly written and sounds especially brilliant and full-bodied on the pianos of Mozart’s time. This tutti effect was one of his favourites, and he also used it in later works, such as the Variation on a Theme by Gluck K 455 the Piano Concerto K 456/I and the cadenza of the Piano Concerto in G major K 453/I.
SECOND MOVEMENT The Andante in C major is unpretentious, but with the help of subtle shading in performance, the repeated notes of the theme can become really effective. Unlike the first movement, which in place of a new development section simply presents a new idea followed by an extended transition to the recapitulation, the second movement contains a true development in the 19th century textbook sense, presenting the subject first in the right hand (in D minor and C major) and then in the lower register and so no.
THIRD MOVEMENT A scintillating virtuoso Presto concludes this Sonata. At the very end, there is a typical Mozartian joke: he wrote the word Coda into the score; but instead of the expected elaborate epilogue, this tail consists of only two concluding chords.
Paul and Eva Badura-Skoda
Suggested viewing on YouTube: Konrad Hansen, 1st movement
Audio example: Maria João Pires
Deutsche Grammophon 028947752004GB6
The levels of difficulty of the
piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
The levels of difficulty of the piano music published by G. Henle Publishers
|1||easy||Bach, Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, nos. 4 and 5|
|2||Bach, Well-Tempered Clavier I, no. 1 Prelude C major|
|3||Beethoven, Piano Sonatas op. 49,1 and 2|
|4||medium||Grieg, Lyric Pieces op. 12, no. 4|
|5||Schumann, Fantasy Pieces op. 12, no. 1|
|6||Chopin, Nocturnes op. 27, nos. 1 and 2|
|7||difficult||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 10, no. 3|
|8||Beethoven, Piano Sonata op. 81a|
|9||Schumann, Toccata op. 7|
Guide to the levels of difficulty
"I don't know what 'difficult' means. Either you can play or you can't" – this was the rather terse comment by the great violinist Nathan Milstein, on being asked about the unbelievable difficulty of Niccolo Paganini's Caprice no. 1.
The relativity of the evaluation of difficulty in music immediately becomes clear. Yet I gladly take up this great challenge, presented to me by G. Henle Publishers. For I am aware of how useful a guide like this can be, both from my own experience as well as that of many colleagues. In particular so as to be able to identify "appropriate" works. For example for music teachers, who teach at very different levels, from beginners to those preparing for music conservatories, but also for all those interested amateurs for whom this guide is intended.
After careful deliberation I have settled on nine levels of difficulty, which I have divided into three groups: 1–3 (easy), 4–6 (medium), 7–9 (difficult). A number of parameters have been considered when assessing the level of difficulty. I have not just looked at the number of fast or slow notes to be played, or the chord sequences; of central importance are also the complexity of the piece's composition, its rhythmic complexities, the difficulty of reading the text for the first time, and last but not least, how easy or difficult it is to understand its musical structure. I have defined "piece" as being the musical unit of a sonata, or a single piece in a cycle, which is why Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" Part I comprises a total of 48 levels of difficulty (each prelude and fugue is considered separately), Schumann's Sonata in f sharp minor op.11 only has a single number. My assessment is measured by the ability to prepare a piece for performance.
While assessing the pieces, it became clear that the medium level of difficulty (4–6) is the trickiest. Now and again this means that a piece is judged as a "3/4", even if it only deserved a "3" as far as piano technique is concerned. An example of such a "borderline" case (easy/medium) is Schumann's "Scenes from Childhood" op. 15 Von fremden Ländern und Menschen or at the other end "6/7" part of Bach's "English Suites". And of course within a main category there are also "from-to" evaluations (e.g. 7/8).
Any evaluation of art or music will always be subjective, even if the aim was to be objective. Despite the fact that I have endeavoured to be as careful as possible, I am all too aware that the results of my work can be called into question, and am therefore grateful for any suggestions you might have.
Prof. Rolf Koenen © 2010