Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Mozart - Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Minor K.457

The last ten years of Mozart's life were spent in Vienna as a free-lance composer. He supported himself by teaching as well as composing. He wrote the last six of his piano sonata while in Vienna, and the piano sonata in C minor was dedicated to one of his students, Therese von Trattner, whose husband was a publisher in Vienna and Mozart's landlord.

Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 14 In C Minor is one of two sonatas in a minor key (the other being the Piano Sonata No. 8 In A Minor K.310/300d).

I. Molto allegro -  The sonata begins with the bare notes of a broken C minor chord in an upward direction, the first theme:

This was a device made popular by the orchestra in Mannheim, Germany, in the middle of the 18th century. This orchestra was highly disciplined and played music by composers such as Johann Stamitz and others that used new and novel effects such as extended crescendos, tremolos, and rapidly rising melodies. Mozart's opening of the sonata is an example of one of those rising motives that was called a Mannheim rocket.  Beethoven knew Mozart's music very well from his early days in Bonn where he played some of the piano music as well as the viola in the court opera orchestra in Mozart's operas. Musicologists have thought Beethoven used this sonata as a model for his own Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor due to similarities in key, structure and intensity. The second theme of the movement is in the relative key of E-flat major. The exposition is repeated. The short development section uses parts of the two themes in the keys of C major, F minor, and G minor before the recapitulation returns to the home key of C minor. Both themes are played in the home key. An agitated coda brings the movement to a close.

II. Adagio - The  slow movement is in E-flat major:
The first section has the initial theme played through twice, with the second hearing being more decorated.  The second section has a different theme that is played through twice with transitional material that leads back to the initial theme that is repeated in an even more decorated form. A coda finishes out the movement.

III.  Allegro assai -  Mozart changes the usual final movement of a sonata from fast and light to more serious and tense:
The first theme is in two distinct parts; the first part is quiet and creates an undercurrent of tension with the right hand having the first and third beats of the measure tied across the bar line. The second part of the theme i8s louder and with more passion. The second subject is in the major and is accompanied by an Alberti bass.  The middle section is a short episode that leads back to the second theme that ushers back the first theme. A coda consists of material from the short episode and the movement ends in C minor.


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