Hyperion Records

Piano Sonata in B flat major, K333
1783; Linz

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Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Andante cantabile
Movement 3: Allegretto grazioso

Piano Sonata in B flat major, K333
Mozart wrote his Piano Sonata in B flat major, K333 in 1783 in Linz, where he and Constanze were staying on their way from Salzburg to Vienna. Superficially it might seem less groundbreaking than the fantasias, with its sunnier key, lighter textures and a plethora of irresistible melodies. But all is not as it might at first appear. The alluring opening, with its gently yearning appoggiaturas, gives way to a more dramatic second theme which creates tension through the interval of a seventh. This idea of a lyrical theme followed by a more extrovert one turns conventional sonata form on its head.

This is a work that seems to increase in scope as it unfolds, and once again memories of the opera house are never far below the surface, with an agitated minor-mode development section, where syncopated right-hand writing is set against restless semiquavers in the left hand, while the composer exploits the contrast of registers to the full. The recapitulation relaxes into the graceful opening theme, and the movement ends in a mood of benign serenity. The Andante cantabile unfolds at an unhurried pace, balancing tenderness with a certain solemnity. By contrast, the high-kicking finale takes off in a quite different direction. It is a concerto allegro in all but name, with clearly defined passages of solo and tutti writing, accents, dramatic silences and terse phrasing all adding spice. Even brief excursions into the minor can’t displace its ebullience for long, and Mozart adds a full-blown cadenza for good measure, in which major and minor battle it out beneath a soaring, trilling operatic line. Light triumphs over darkness as the opening theme is recalled, heralding a simple but emphatic ending.

from notes by Harriet Smith © 2008

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