Another feature of the Divertimento, giving Mozart an extra resource in filling out his expansive designs, is the important role allotted to the second violin, often given the task of introducing subsidiary ideas. In this opening movement the second subject and the closing passage of the exposition are both announced by the second violin. If Mozart himself played the difficult leaderís part at the first performance, could it be that Leopold played second violin? Another remarkable thing about K334ís first movement is its development section, during which the horns are silent. Beginning with a sudden modulation to a remote key (F major), the way back to the home key lies through a maze of rapidly shifting chromatic harmonies. Here, Mozart is certainly bewildering the Ďless learnedí amongst his listeners, whilst no doubt delighting the Ďconnoisseursí.
The following Andante with variations also pushes at the boundaries of the divertimento form by being in a minor key. The tone is kept fairly light, through such ideas as the unison pizzicato presentation of the theme as accompaniment to the violinís brilliant final variation, and the glowing, serenade-like colours of the major-key variation, where the horns assume the main thematic burden. But there are also plenty of the dark shadows typical of Mozartís minor-key music Ė agitated syncopations, expressive chromatic harmonies, and impassioned, declamatory melodic lines. The first minuet takes us back to D major. In the early twentieth century this was one of Mozartís best-known pieces, the suave elegance of the slurred pairs of notes that make up its melody seeming just as persuasive an evocation of eighteenth-century aristocratic manners as the gentle syncopations of the famous Boccherini minuet. Mozart was to return to this mood and to use a very similar texture, with viola doubling the violin line an octave lower (but without the delightful effect of the horns), in the trio of the minuet in his D minor Quartet, K421.
The A major Adagio contrasts a detached, declamatory opening with the cantabile continuation on the violin. Soon, however, the two styles are combined, with the second violin leading an accompanying string trio. The whole movement impresses by its rich elaboration, the extravagant decoration of the melodic line supported by continually varied patterns in the lower instruments. The robust second minuet, with its memorable, strongly rhythmic theme and lively accompaniment, has two trios, both in a minor key. Even in the minuet itself there is a mysterious minor-mode episode, as though Mozart is recreating in miniature the contrast between D major and D minor of the Divertimentoís first three movements. And in the B minor second trio the pattern is reversed, a soft horn call appearing to push the music back to D major, followed each time by a return to the minor key.
The final Rondo is very different from the one in K247, though its key-plan and sequence of events are quite similar. Instead of the short repeated sections of the earlier movement, repeats here are written out and varied. And instead of the sharply contrasting characters of each succeeding episode, the impression here is broader, with a spacious pastoral character. Along with the six-eight metre, this suggests a parallel with the finale of Mozartís last instrumental work, the Clarinet Concerto. Even if we see Mozartís final works as moving towards a new, more romantic style, it is fascinating to realize how many aspects of his later achievements are already present in the period of his early maturity.
from notes by Duncan Druce © 2003