This “little” D-major sonata is somewhat the pansy (or violet?) among Mozart’s eighteen piano sonatas. It is “little” in dimensions when compared to the two other sonatas in the same key of D major (K. 284, and especially K. 576). It is very seldom heard in concert; and in piano lessons, too, is played less frequently. Admittedly it is not enveloped by the tragic gloom of the Sonata in A minor K. 310, nor does it have a wonderfully heartfelt slow movement like the Sonata in C major K. 309, these being the two works with which it was printed in Paris in 1778. K. 311, however, is pianistically “worthwhile” in many regards: in the opening movement one can practice several standard technical challenges (hand-crossings, effervescent runs, parallel sixths, tremolos at large intervals, etc.). The slow movement (“Andante con espressione”) hones expressiveness, something that does not always come naturally to many keyboardists (a compositional trick also makes a surprise appearance at bar 25). With its lively 6/8 meter, the finale in turn recalls not only the veritable “Hunt Sonata” K. 576 but could almost have come from the solo part of a Mozartean piano concerto. All in all: a worthwhile challenge, this sonata, which sounds much harder than its technical demands require.

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