SEON - RCA Red Seal
1 LP - RL 30335 - (p) 1979
1 CD - SBK 62953 - (c) 1997


Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Sonata in E-flat Major for Piano and Violin, KV 58
8' 53"

- Adagio 3' 26"

- Menuetto: Moderato 2' 20"

- Rondo: Allegro assai 2' 57"

Sonata in E Minor for Piano and Violin, KV 304
13' 16"

- Allegro 8' 27"

- Tempo di Menuetto 4' 49"

Sonata in E-flat Major for Piano and Violin, KV 481
24' 35"

- Molto allegro 7' 07"

- Adagio 8' 53"

- Thema: Allegretto (in 6 variations) 8' 35"

Gustav Leonhardt, Fortepiano (Anton Walter, Vienna, c.1795-1805)

Sigiswald Kuijken, Violin (Naggini School, Brescia, mid-17th century)

Luogo e data di registrazione
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (Germany) - Dicembre 1977

Registrazione: live / studio

Producer / Recording Supervisor
Wolf Erichson

Recording Engineer

Dieter Thomsen

Prima Edizione LP
Seon (RCA Red Seal) | RL 30335 | 1 LP - durata 47' 20" | (p) 1979 | ANA

Edizione CD
Sony | SBK 62953 | 1 CD - durata 47' 20" | (c) 1997 | ADD

Original Cover

J. H. van der Meer: Violinspieler, aus Leopold Mozarts "Violinschule", Kupferstich


Mozart’s first violin Sonatas (K.V. 55-60) date from the time of his journeys to Italy as a boy (c.1772-1773). They are still very much in the style of the “sonatas for pianoforte with violin accompaniment”, as they were then called, for the violin itself receives very scanty treatment. For the most part it is allocated only accompanying figures, little bits of imitation or sustained notes to fill out the harmony - needless to say, though, often to great effect. The piano part, on the other hand, has been constructed with painstaking care: it explores the various pitches and Works with very individual figurations. As the violin is not yet on an equal footing with the piano in these sonatas, there is no true exchange between partners, no “concertante” interplay.
The Sonata in E flat major, K.V. 58 uses the suite form for its overall structural scheme. It consists of a group of dance-like movements in the style of the earlier “sonata da camera”. Mozart altogether appears to have been very impressed with the art of the old Italian masters such as Corelli and Sammartini, for his treatment of the bass line and his melodic and rhythmic structures in this sonata often sound strangely archaic. The Work is full of contrasts and changing moods. The Rondo is relatively freely handled, with one of its episodes in the dark E flat minor key.
The Violin Sonata in E minor, K.V. 304, like the passionate A minor Piano Sonata K.V. 310, was written during Mozart’s unhappy sojourn in Paris in 1778. It is one of the six “Electress Palatine” Sonatas (K.V. 301-306) that Mozart grouped together as his Opus 1 to dedicate to Maria Elisabeth, Electress Palatine. In keeping with French tradition the sonata has two movements. The work displays great depths of emotion, at times touching on the dramatic, though always keeping a measure of restraint. In the first movement stubborn defiance, expressed in stormy unison passages and slashing syncopations, fights with weary resignation. At moments of particular gravity Mozart inevitably turns to counterpoint; here he accentuates the transitional passages and the close with a canon. In the second movement, too, significantly headed “Tempo di Minuetto” not “Minuet”, the mood is predominantly tragic, though the short E major trio brings a welcome respite. An intensely passionate motive towards the end of the movement leads into a brief, almost frantic outburst. Seldom did Mozart write music so acutely felt, so overladen with personal tragedy as in this fateful year.
The Violin Sonata in E flat major, K.V. 481 is one of great artistic maturity and originality. Its proximity to the violin concertos of around 1785 is apparent from its virtuosity, concertante treatment, wealth of ideas and experimental zeal. In the development section of the virile yet congenial first movement Mozart quotes one of his favourite themes from the F major Mass, using it once more in the coda, this time combined with the main and final subjects. The Adagio in A flat major is a rondo, whose main theme is varied each time it reappears. Its melismatically decorated episodes are exquisite examples of cantabile writing. Rapturous and sweeping, they lead the music through a labyrinth of modulations until it culminates in an enharmonic transformation. Never was Mozart so near to Beethoven as in this middle movement and finale. In the final movement Mozart gives six variants of a popular Viennese-Parisian tune, the fourth attaining the status of a genuine self-contained character variation.
Lothar Hoffmann-Erbrecht

Notes on the piano-forte used in this recording
For this recording an historic instrument from the Neupert collection of keyboard instruments housed in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum has been used, an early piano (Hammerflügel) made by Anton Walter of Vienna.
Anton Walter was born in Württembrg, Germany, in 1752. He started up a keyboard instrument workshop in Vienna at the end of the 1770’s, continuing to run it until his death in 1826. In 1790 he received the official title of “Royal Imperial Chamber Organ Builder and Instrument Maker”. Shortly before the year 1817 he offered his stepson Johann Joseph Schöffstoss a partnership in the business. Instruments made during this last decade consequently bear the signature “Walter and Son”.
As a piano maker Walter had a particularly good reputation. Haydn knew him and valued his work, and, according to Czerny’s memoirs, Beethoven had a Walter piano-forte in his flat in the winter of 1799-1800.
Konstanze Mozart records in a letter to her son Carl in 1810 that Mozart’s own pianoforte was a Walter instrument. This instrument is preserved in Salzburg in the house where Mozart was born.
Thanks to the considerable number of Walter piano-fortes that have survived, the instrument’s development can be fairly accurately traced. It always had the “Viennese action”, with its light touch and leather-covered hammers allowing the characteristic clear bright tone. Until about the year 1795 the compass of the instrument was from F to f3, which Mozart, for instance, never exceeded in his piano works; from about 1795 to about 1803 the compass was F’ - g3, from about 1803 to about 1820 it was F'—c4, and finally F’- f4. Mozart’s piano-forte, made in about 1780, had only the five octaves. The instrument on this recording has a compass of F'- g3, from which we conclude that it was made during the last few years of the 18th century or the first few years of the 19th. Although it was made after Mozart’s death this piano-forte has the same tone quality and timbre and the same touch as the ones made during his lifetime.
All the early pianos from Walter’s workshop are equipped with two register stops: “forte” (raising of the dampers) and “moderator”. The use of this latter stop interposes a strip of cloth between the leather-covered hammers and the strings, which produces a more muted tone quality. It should be noted that this stop actually changes the timbre and consequently contributes much more than the modern “soft” pedal. From about 1780 to about 1820 the registers on all Viennese-made instruments, including Walter’s, were brought into action by knee-operated devices, not foot pedals. Pedal-work as we know it from the modern piano is therefore not possible on this instrument, neither is it necessary, as these early Viennese classical pianos sound considerably more colourful and brilliant than their modern counterparts.
From the “Electress Palatine” Sonatas (1778) onwards (here represented by the E minor Sonata) the piano parts of these violin sonatas - or piano sonatas with violin accompaniments, as they were then called - were conceived with qualities peculiar to the piano-forte in mind. In the case of the earlyviolin sonatas, however, the keyboard instrument governing the style was the harpsichord, although it would have been quite natural to use the piano-forte, as at the time the two instruments existed side by side.
John Henry van der Meer
English translation by Avril Watts