Movement 1: Allegro assai
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Rondo: Tempo di menuetto
‘Accompany’, a word pianists have good reason to mistrust, is the right word in this case, though it is the stringed instruments that accompany the piano, not the other way round. Those letters reveal just the sort of informal setting for which this trio was designed. In this, unlike Mozart’s later trios, it follows the pattern of Haydn and a host of lesser composers in providing amateur keyboard-players with a delightful work for them to play on whatever instrument was available, with their friends accompanying them on violin and cello. Such works were published not as trios, but as ‘Sonatas for harpsichord or forte piano, with the accompaniment of violin and violoncello’. There was a very large market for them, particularly in Vienna and England.
In Mozart’s Divertimento, as in other accompanied sonatas, the cello shadows the bass of the piano almost throughout, almost in the manner of the Baroque continuo (Mozart’s layout of the parts in the score suggests something of this tradition, with the cello part below the piano, and the violin above). In the first movement the violin provides a charming foil to the piano’s right hand, sometimes filling in with an accompanying figure, at other times moving in thirds against the melody, or answering the piano’s phrases. As the work continues, the violin’s freedom increases, and it becomes a much more equal partner with the piano in the second and third movements. The first movement is a brisk Allegro assai, the finale a minuet-rondo, a form in which Mozart’s friend Johann Christian Bach excelled. The central Adagio looks forward to the later trios, with its melancholy touches of chromatic harmony, and the increasingly airborne decoration of its melody.
from notes by Robert Philip © 2007