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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Sonata C major K. 309 (284b)

Editor: Ernst Herttrich
Fingering: Hans-Martin Theopold

9.00 €

Urtext Edition, paperbound
Detailed critical commentary
(not available in the printed editions)
available free-of-charge: Download

Pages: 25 (V, 20), Size 23,5 x 31,0 cm
Order no. HN 1065 · ISMN 979-0-2018-1065-2

Level of difficulty (Piano): medium (Level 5)


“I wish to do it to reflect the character of Mad:selle Rose,” Mozart replied when asked how he intended to set out the Andante of his Sonata in C major. In autumn 1777 he had got to know Rosina Cannabich in Mannheim and during her lessons immediately introduced her to the Sonata K. 309 that he had composed for her. Indeed, in December 1777 according to her teacher she was already able to perform it “excellently”. So that a great many other pupils might follow in her footsteps, we are now publishing this small gem that shows Mozart‘s great skill in composing for the piano as a single edition with a new preface by the editor; it was previously only available in the complete volumes (HN 1 and 3).

FIRST MOVEMENT The first movement of the C major Sonata K 309 is a model teaching sonata form structure. With sonata forms, as with Bach fugues, no formal dogmas underlie the process of composition, but each sonata varies anew a basic principle. For Mozart, this entailed strict adherence to certain fundamental patterns without his creative freedom. In his sonata movements in major keys, for example he favoured a distinct second subject in the dominant as most contemporary composers did. Haydn, on the other hand, reveled in experiment at this point.
A brief analysis may help to demonstrate Mozart’s standard sonata allegro form and the first movement of it is an ideal example for such an investigation. The first subject is a distinctive, marcato opening followed by a five-bar response. The falling fourth and rising sixth of the opening is one of Mozart’s favourite motifs, his common melodic device. He often uses it in the minor as well as the major, and many of his themes start with this motif (e.g. the second movement of the A major Sonata K 331, the Adagio in B minor K 540, and subjects in the Symphonies K 114, 124, 319/II and 551/II). The seven measures of the main theme are repeated, slightly varied. Measures 15 to 21 conclude the first subject group with an answering phrase (3+3 bars). The transition consists of new material and then, in measure 35 (after two measures of preparation comes a second cantabile theme, in the dominant (G major) comprising 2x4 bars, which is also repeated and proceeds to a spirited closing theme (concluding group) using passage-work (m. 43) and incorporating a delightful diminuation of measures 35 36 in measure 45. The exposition ends with a codetta of five bars. The development presents the opening motif first in g minor, and then the various ideas of the first subject are worked out. With this procedure Mozart is keeping much more closely to textbook principles than he usually does. Two further statements of the opening motif lead back to the recapitulation in measure 94. The second subject, now in the tonic, has surprisingly changed place with its accompaniment. The opening is recalled again in an effectively assertive coda.

SECOND MOVEMENT The second movement of this sonata is an introspective Andante un poco adagio. In a letter Mozart stated his desire to make this Andante match the character of the young pianist Rosa Cannabich for whom he wrote it: “…she is a sweet, pretty girl, just like the andante. For her age she is sensible and level-headed; she is serious, and doesn’t talk too much, though what she says is pleasing and sympathetic”.

THIRD MOVEMENT An elegant and smoothly flowing Rondo of unusually large proportions concludes this Sonata.
Paul and Eva Badura-Skoda

More information

Suggested viewing on YouTube: Claudio Arrau, 3rd movement

Audio example: Maria João Pires
Deutsche Grammophon 028947752004GB6


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