Mozart’s Sonata k331The first movement of Sonata K331 is comprised of a theme, sixvariations and a coda. The theme comprises of 18 bars: four times fourbar phrases with an ‘extension’ tacked onto the end. Mozart followedthis strict binary theme but this does not mean that the music is atall predictable; he uses different techniques to bring the best out ofthis form, as detailed later. The extension is an example of Mozartsurprising the listener and enhancing the journey to the end of thetheme. Each of the groups of four bars ends with a cadence. This isperiodic phrasing, one of many signatures of ‘galant’ musical style(also known as Viennese classical music) that had its emphasis onpleasing the ear with simple melody than brash counterpoint orintricate texture.
It would be wrong to assume that the basic 8 bar theme (disregardingfor a moment the 2 bar extension) and it’s 6 variations are prone tolack of continuity- although the form can be clearly heard and thereis distinct difference between each variation, several dominatingmelodies and musical ideas run through the piece. The Andante rarelyleaves the key of A major, giving the listener a solid base from whichthe melodies spring from and grounds the listener so when Mozartembellishes and decorates the notes in later variations, the drivingforce behind the music are still recognisable.
Continuity can also be judged by the form of the piece. The binaryform theme of 4-bar antecedent followed by four bar consequent letseach train of melody be absorbed and compared easily. However, on theother side of the argument, the form could be criticised for being to…
…tion can be heard in bar 81 where the left hand playschromatic appoggiaturas followed by a fast bridge in bar 83.
Also in bar 83 we have the marking ‘sforzando’, the first time sincethe theme. This is followed in bars 83 to 90 with a repeat of bars73-79. Is this repetition of bars a positive or negative attribute?Critics would argue that this shows a bland use of space and lack oftonal variation but others believe this is just another tool used byMozart to make the listener appreciate the strong melody of themovement.
Initially, the sonata could be criticised as in the title, and doesindeed have short passages that do not lend themselves to continuityand vast tonal contrast. However, Mozart has managed to overcome thisand, through the tools explained above, produced an interesting andenjoyable piece.