About the album
There is hardly any area of music that does not allow Mozart’s genius to achieve complete fulfilment. In the course of his brief life, he achieved such perfection that the listener can simply let the music pour over him and enjoy it. That Mozart is a particular favorite with a wide variety of audiences is closely related to his compelling qualities and broad range of characterization. His creative spectrum is so extensive and subtle that every listener can find his own favorite color within it. One senses from his music that he is truly open and honest. He knows how to translate his mood subtly into music. And so we encounter much of his wit, joy, and childlike quality as well as deep sensitivity, grief, and sentimentality. The expression of feelings is so manifold and powerful, that many people misunderstand Mozart and assess him falsely as a ‘jocose’ composer. This superficial assessment is just as dangerous for any would-be interpreter of Mozart’s music.
Even though Mozart was essentially a joyful personality, his life was also marked by suspense, disillusionment, and hope...and all of this is mirrored in his music. His piano music is not ‘pianistically’ but ‘orchestrally’ conceived. I, of course, do not know what Mozart would have thought of a modern piano, but just these very orchestral sounds—nuances, changing tone qualities, and articulations such as delicate piano legato passages and strong tutti style fortes— can be better reproduced, in my opinion, on this modern 1906 Steinway than on a fortepiano.
On this CD you can, in parallel with the development of the keyboard instrument (Spinet-Harpsichord-Fortepiano) follow Mozart’s life—from his earliest youth in Salzburg (KV 1, 283) through the middle period in different cities (KV 330, 355, 394, 397) to his late period (KV 573, 574). The Fantasia and Fugue in C major, KV 394 (383a) Mozart himself calls a ‘prelude’ and fugue. In his letter of 20 April 1782, he writes of the fugue “I have diligently written Andante Maestoso at the beginning, so that people wouldn’t just rattle it off—because when a fugue isn’t played slowly, you can’t hear the entrances of the subject clearly and distinctly, and as a result they have no effect”. In addition, he says: “the preludio should come first, and then the fugue —the reason for this, though, was that I had already composed the fugue, and wrote it down while I was thinking out the prelude”. He himself was not too pleased with the fugue and thought that he would send “something better” the next time! In the same key, the Sonata in C Major, KV 330 (300h) follows. Between the opening and closing movements, where the third movement give the listener the impression that is might be the closing movement of a piano concerto, is the wonderfully beautiful Andante cantabile in ABA form. The various sections are furnished with repeats, and I felt that I could justifiably add a few of my own ornaments to the repeats, as was the practice in Mozart’s day.
Mozart’s first composition, the Minuet in G major with trio in C major, KV 1 (KV 6:1e/1f) is something very special. It is unbelievable how much range of expression can already be seen here. I myself am most impressed by the little hemiolas in the minuet; all the more because they were written by such a young child. Now a jump ahead to later Mozart: although we remain in the same style, one can clearly hear in the Minuet in D Major, KV 355 (594a; KV6:576b) that the melodic style is unusually chromatic. Mozart has made much use of suspensions, and the depth of feeling can be clearly sensed. Only the last four measures of each half recall the younger Mozart. Maximilian Stadler composed a Trio to this minuet. I did not include this on the CD, because it would have seemed to me to be an incongruity of style.
The Gigue in G major, KV 574 is very contrapuntally conceived, divided, as was characteristic in the Baroque, into two equal halves. It provides a fine chance for the interpreter to show off his technical abilities to their best advantage. In sharp contrast are the two main themes of the first movement of the Sonata in G major, KV 283 (189h). Both are very melodic and cantabile, nearly identical, a most innovative and interesting feature. This sonata is one of Mozart’s earlier works, and Johann Christian Bach’s influence on the young composer is unmistakable. Particularly in the first movement, the development section is so short that one could imagine that the piece is divided into two equal sections. This is the reason why I repeat both sections. The third movement once again demonstrates Mozart’s own virtuosity on the keyboard.
The Fantasia in d minor, KV 397 (385g), can be taken as a prelude to the Duport variations. This fantasy has survived as a fragment; I myself have completed the last nine measures. There is also another conclusion composed by André. This piece is meant to be played very freely. At the time, it was the practice to play a little miniature like this before a sonata or variation set, to set the mood for the audience and pianist. There are many tempo changes, cadenzas, and contrasts; sometimes the music is soft and dreamy, sometimes powerful and stormy. Only the last D Major section should be played in strict tempo. The Variations in D Major, KV 573 are based on a minuet by Jean Pierre Duport, the director of the Royal chamber music at Potsdam. Although the minuet contains only two harmonies, tonic and dominant, Mozart very frequently introduces other harmonies into his variations. The first two variations are extremely virtuosic. In the third, in contrast, there is a chamber music quality—it could be a duet for flute and bassoon. The fourth variation is a ‘fanfare’-like triplet variation, and in the fifth Mozart once again shows his feeling for humor and irony. The sixth, the minor variation, must only be quieter in character but not in tempo, because it is followed by the seventh variation, in octaves, and then the eighth, a slow variation. Here the interpreter should play as though the improvisations and transitional passages were not written out; the ornaments and scale passages should in no case be strictly in tempo, because it is a very free variation. In sharp contrast to this comes the ninth variation in quick 2/4 time, and after a coda and short cadenza the theme makes a return appearance. I have tried to assemble a wide range of styles (dances, sonatas, variations, works with improvisatory and polyphonic character, quick and slow pieces) from Mozart’s rich musical oeuvre—I hope that everyone will find something to enjoy in this varied selection.
11Gigue in G Major, K. 574
12Fantasia & Fugue in C Major, K. 394 (383a) Adagio - Fantasia
13Fantasia & Fugue in C Major, K. 394 (383a) Andante Maestoso - Fugue
14Sonata in C Major, K. 330 I. Allegro Moderato
15Sonata in C Major, K. 330 II. Andante Cantabile
16Sonata in C Major, K. 330 III. Allegretto
17Minuet in D Major, K. 355 (594a)
18Sonata in G Major, K. 283 I. Allegro
19Sonata in G Major, K. 283 II. Andante
110Sonata in G Major, K. 283 III. Presto
111Fantasia in D Minor, K. 397
1129 Variations in D Major, After a Minuet of Jean-Pierre Duport, K. 573
113Minuet in G Major, K. 1 (K. 6:1e) - Minuet in C Major, K. 1, Trio [K. 6:1f]