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Mozart was both a violinist and pianist of prodigious virtuosity, a soloist in his own right. This biographical fact bears testimony to the influence these attainments had on his music. In his correspondence to his son, Leopold once wrote � If you would only do yourself justice and play with fire and boldness you would be the first violinist in Europe.� But Leopold was very well aware of Wolfgang�s precocious-ness and indulged the boy in fatherly support and guidance with solid instruction of the learned school; after all he was the son of a professional musician, but it makes one wonder and begs the question how many young talents have been lost to us by want of such parental support, guidance and environment in their earliest years? Of the two instruments Mozart preferred the piano, and again this is reflected in the incomparable series of piano concertos composed at Vienna in the 1780s, greater works than the earlier violin concertos written at Salzburg for his own performance. However in chamber music Mozart like Beethoven and Schubert played the viola but apart from some string quintets written between 1787-91 and a trio for clarinet, viola and piano, and some fine duets for violin and viola there are no concertante works or sonatas designated for the viola, with the one exception of the double concerto in E flat for violin and viola � the Sinfonia Concertante; yet as a violist I cant help thinking if Mozart ever thought of composing a concerto or at the very least a sonata for a much maligned instrument especially in his own time. There is no doubt in my mind that Mozart was familiar with the peculiarities and elusiveness of the viola and being a master of orchestral balance he revealed this in his instructions that the viola soloist should tune his instrument up a semitone, so that the increased tension of the strings should give its tone more edge and render it the more easily able to cope with its brilliant partner the violin. Could this be another reason why Mozart was reluctant to write a large-scale solo work for an instrument, which he probably regarded as inferior in tonal brilliance? We shall never know! I have taken the liberty therefore as a tribute to the great man in this his auspicious year of transcribing the beautiful sonata for piano and violin K305 for the viola. Again the way Mozart juxtaposes the two instruments as equal partners in this sonata without the dominance of either the piano or the violin bears directly upon the man�s art. The sonata is in two movements; the second movement comprising of a theme with six variations and it is interesting to note that Mozart scores the first variation entirely for his favourite instrument �the piano. I end with a quotation from Comte de Saint-Foix: � May Mozart�s work more and more bring to it�s lovers, and in the future to those who as yet know it not, something of the soul of him who made it: a soul filled with love for his fellows, filled with moral greatness, with simple and pure goodness of heart and divine serenity! May his message spread throughout a ravaged world and shed consolation!�
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Reviews of MOZART, W.A. - Sonata for Piano & Violin K.305 transcribed for the Viola by Gerald Manning
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