Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the ultimate classical composer. His output is within the Classical style, yet forward thinking to far more powerful and grandiose genres that would come.
I chose his Piano Sonata in A Major because it is a charming theme and variations that I had not yet heard.
This piece is in the established theme and variation tradition, with six variations. It departs, however, into a minuetto and trio after the variations, and closes with the famous Rondo Alla Turca. Most variations are in the original key of A major, but variation III switches to A minor. In typical Mozart fashion, the variations span all kinds of accompaniment patterns and by the end, the original melody is only hinted at.
The minuetto toys with the key, going between A major and minor, and the trio is in the dominant key of D.
This last movement is in the Turkish style, or Turquerie, a common trope of the day. The Turkish were seen as exotic, so using their style closes the sonata with an exciting oriental feel.
This sonata is different from music from the earlier classical tradition in that it shifts keys more easily and fluidly. Between the A major and minor sections in the minuetto, there are moments in which the key center is suspended. It never veers too far from home, though, like we will see more around the turn of the 19th Century.
I am always shocked by how many motives can be found in Mozart’s music. Between each of the movements, he keeps adding fresh rhythms and exciting new material. I also found it interesting that I had the last movement of this piece a thousand times, yet had never heard the theme and variations that precede it.
Turquerie and Eighteenth-Century Music
Eve R. Meyer
Vol. 7, No. 4 (Summer, 1974), pp. 474-488
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3031600