Keyboard instruments > Piano solo

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Sonata D major K. 311 (284c)

Editor: Ernst Herttrich
Fingering: Hans-Martin Theopold

12.95 $

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

Pages: 23 (V, 18), Size 23,5 x 31,0 cm
Order no. HN 752 · ISMN 979-0-2018-0752-2

Level of difficulty (Piano): medium (Level 5/6)

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.

*****

FIRST MOVEMENT The first movement of this Sonata is, like the earlier Dürnitz Sonata (which also is in D major), an orchestral sounding brio movement; both works radiate with Mannheim exuberance.

SECOND MOVEMENT The second movement might be described as a sonata movement without a development. Its song-like eleven-bar theme, 4+4 (3 1/2) + 3 (3 1/2), with a concluding note at the 12th measure, is followed by an episode and a wonderfully varied return of the theme in D major (m. 25) instead of a contrasting second subject. The recapitulation starts in measure 39. But no formal description can do justice to the poetical depth of this movement. Under the seemingly simple statements there is a profound undercurrent of emotion. Among Mozart’s contemporaries only Joseph Haydn could occasionally match such a wealth of expression.

THIRD MOVEMENT The final movement is one of Mozart’s hunting rondos in six-eight meter, so often found in his piano concertos. It combines rondo form and sonata form brilliantly. The second episode in B minor has the character of a development section, crowned by a small written-out cadenza.

Paul and Eva Badura-Skoda

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