The Complete Mozart Piano Sonatas / S D Rodrian

I am making these MP3 files (the complete Mozart piano sonatas) available now (rather than later) because I have reached a point of diminishing returns in their editing. That is, theoretically the pieces can always come closer still to the way I think they ought to be interpreted--but not by so much that it justifies my spending all that much more effort on it. Although it was fun while it lasted, it's time to work on something else now.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Copyright (P) 1998 Mr. S. D. Rodrian

Although any transcription of Mozart's music is by definition in the Public Domain, these 'interpretations' ARE copyrighted as performances:

This music may not be reproduced by any means without the expressed written permission of S. D. Rodrian... with the one exception that these MP3 files may be freely distributed through the WWW as long as they are not modified in any way.

I don't know whether these pieces are the easiest things in the world to learn, or the most difficult to play in the entire musical universe--but that will surely always be the ambivalent nature of these miraculously beautiful piano sonatas. I recall Glenn Gould tossing off a couple of the fast movements quite admirably, but for some reasons he always seemed to get overly-mystical with the slow movements. My own interpretations are always more pianoforte (than fortepiano), and, as with most of my interpretations, really... as free from dynamic eccentricities as I can manage them (I am after an ideal performance of these supreme masterpieces unencumbered by the technical limitations of any given player), so a very strictly-observed tempo is always the guiding light with me: You may criticize with some historical justification my use of the sustain pedal, but I am certainly NOT trying to create definitive performances--there are hundreds of other interpretations out there, and mine is merely unique with me (not with the world).

Yes, I use the sustain pedal a lot (but, I'm not sure Mozart would not have done the same had the 'pianos' of his earliest days been the grands of Beethoven's final days).

Finally, if there's one individual I'd clone exclusively for his/her genetic talents... it would be Mozart--Bach and Beethoven clones might choose to go into science or literature the second time around, but a Mozart clone would probably be hitting the keyboard before he could walk: This is what musicians mean when they tout him as the most natural musician who ever lived. The great tragedy is that he died so young. Had he lived another twenty or thirty years... it's only a matter of what would he not have done!

           other MP3 versions of these files are available at:


Mozart PS No.1 in CM, K.279 (189d)

Although not really Mozart's first piano sonata, it is the earliest that survives. The opening Allegro is a rather dispassionate exercise; although it's still a very good example of that gracefulness for its own sake which the period's (over-reliance on grace notes?) produced in sometimes quite disgraceful overabundance. In contrast to this, the Andante is a sober, almost bittersweet moment of personal reflection. The concluding Allegro is unstinting in its enthusiasm throughout, and certainly already hints at a master's self-confidence, albeit this sonata was written by a nineteen year-old.

Mozart PS No.2 in FM, K.280 (189e)

The opening Allegro assai here is much more clearly mature in its rich and elaborate structure. But if anyone doubt the profound depths of emotion a young Mozart might have been capable of even at this early date, one hearing of the {sic} fabulously soaring and lyrical Adagio of this sonata must certainly dispel all such prejudices; this is a truly poetic creation. And yet, as serious as the 2nd movement is, the concluding Presto is that much lighter a statement --almost an 'apology' from Mozart for having importuned upon his listeners with the personal stains of the middle movement.

Mozart PS No.3 in BfM, K.281 (189f)

The opening Allegro is a dancing, carefree romp; children at their horseplay. In contrast, the Andante amoroso is a stately dance of trees with the breeze like nobler nobles than mere aristocrats at their ball. The Rondo-Allegro meanwhile is so typically what the tradition has made Mozart's that it would be unimaginable that another composer would have ever come up with such a sportive little piece.

Mozart PS No.4 in EfM, K.282 (189g)

The opening Adagio is a delicate and considered statement with all the feeling of a fishing trip to an old favorite stream. The two menuettos of the middle movement are nothing short of melting ice-cream clouds over a candyland of startlingly brilliant hues, and clearly show Mozart's humor. The concluding Allegro is an exercise in sheer virtuosity.

Mozart PS No.5 in GM, K.283 (189h)

While the opening Allegro is almost a dispassionate and formal musical study, the Andante is a very measured stroll through bittersweet old memories. The sonata concluded with the very brilliant celebration of the Presto.

Mozart PS No.6 in DM, K.284 (205b) Durnitz -

The Allegro is a deliciously brilliant composition of the fully self-confident musician Mozart was even in his twenties). The Rondeau en Polonaise --Andante could easily be a hectic portrait of some aristocratic household. While the concluding Theme with variations that round up this sonata are nothing short of extraordinary in the way they build their range of emotional exploration from one variation to the next... from the delightfully playful to the grandiose, to the sneaky, to the utterly wild.

Mozart PS No.7 in CM, K.309 (284b)

The Allegro con spirito brims with heroic colors, like a stallion galloping over the field of victory... even though this particular stallion, being Mozart's, doesn't at all mind doing a little playful dance here & there. The Andante un poco adagio, on the other hand, could easily be a fluffy puppy discovering the new house and family he's just moved in with. The concluding Rondo --Allegretto graziosois as magnificent a frisky Rondo as Mozart was ever to write.

Mozart PS No.8 in DM, K.311 (284c)

The Allegro con spirito here is not especially spectacular except musically (as opposed to emotionally). The Andante con espressione is notable for the masterful integration of its ornaments--something which makes this movement one of the most graceful Mozart ever composed. The concluding Rondo --Allegro is a breath of fresh air right out of that sort of celebration of life we always seem to associate with the countryside.

Mozart PS No.9 in am, K.310 (300d)

The Allegro maestoso is one of Mozart's most Beethoven-like works; at least, in the sense of its unbridled intensity. The Andante cantabile con espressione is an early evening stroll past hauntingly familiar grounds. The concluding Presto must have also presented quite a powerful model for the young Beethoven to shoot at. (There's a superstition that Mozart's inspiration here was his mother's corpse (in the next room); but one could hardly imagine anyone concentrating this well with one's mother's corpse in the next room.)

Mozart PS No.10 in CM, K.330 (300h)

The Allegro moderato is a familiar workhorse for most Mozart students; and deservedly so, because of its untiringly always fresh spirits-lighting enthusiasm and many opportunities to show off a mastered technique. The Allegro cantabile is as touching and beautiful as anyone could have ever hoped to imagine. The concluding Allegretto is pure cotton candy... all dressed up in Mozart's familiar kind of genius.

Mozart PS No.11 in AM, K.331 (300i)

The Theme (andante grazioso) and variations are filled throughout with a shimmering bright spirit of Christmas lights & decorations. The Menuetto makes your head spin with its tipsy abandon. And the final Alla Turca --Allegretto is one of Mozart's most well-known pieces, endlessly spinning sweeping staircases over which the player's fingers dance charmingly from one grand ball to another... finally to end up in a fabulous frenzy of unbridled rejoicing.

Mozart PS No.12 in FM, K.332 (300k)

The Allegro is somewhat unconventional for its time, and would fit in quite nicely with middle Beethoven. The Adagio compliments the previous movement with a more subjective sweep, as if it were a very engaging voyage of self-exploration... which, unfortunately, almost always seem to prompt players to take it too adagio. Well, if Mozart's music is so universally loved it is in no small measure due to the joy embodied in pieces like the festive (sonata form) Allegretto grazioso.

Mozart PS No.13 in BfM, K.333 (315c)

Bach-like for its sheer concentration, the opening  Allegro is music first and last, first to last, as if Mozart were trying to distance his personality from his art. The mood of personal detachment spills over into the ensuing Andante cantabile, which sweeps along with an almost graceful disdain--all the more eccentric because of the hints if gives us throughout of the tragic. Perhaps the above makes the uninhibitedly coy Allegro grazioso inevitable--this is the Mozart of legend.

Mozart PS No.14 in cm, K.457 (457)

This Allegro is a serious work imbued with the spirit of a determined soul captured in the middle of its quest--not unlike the sort of thing Beethoven would become famous for many years later. The Adagio is a leisurely stroll through a wooded park under the blessing of shade trees and cooling breezes, around fish-stocked pools and grassy clearings where butterflies flutter aimlessly here & there watched over by squirrels frolicking up and down tree trunks. The concluding Rondo must have haunted Beethoven, as it certainly reminiscent of him.

Mozart PS No.15 in FM, K.533 (533) plus the Rondo K.494 (494) June 10'1789

Was this sonata (K.533) really left unfinished by Mozart? In any case it's usually complimented with the K.494 Rondo for its ending. The opening Allegro is a brilliant display of virtuosity with echoes of complimentary counterpoint. The Andante is such a heart-felt song that it could have easily flowed from the most Romantic pen of any of the major mid-1800 composers (and it leads one to speculate whether Mozart might not have simply run out of time before he could find a third movement worthy or following it, a la Schubert's 8th). The Rondo  (K.494) is startling here only because it follows the great Andante, otherwise it's quite sweeping and pianistic in & of itself.

Mozart PS No.16 in FM, K. Anh135 (547a) plus 6 vars. on an Allegretto in FM K.54 (547b)

Although something of a patchwork, this sonata is still worthy of inclusion in this wonderful cycle. The opening Allegro is almost savage in its furious and unrelenting determination. The Rondo is a miraculous lyric which dances infinitely on in languidly flowing high-wire lines, always threatening to fall to a yet sadder and sadder mood... yet never quite ever really getting off its soaringly moving lyrical eloquence. The concluding (K.54) Six variations on an Allegretto (which is nothing short of the harbinger of all sweet delights to follow) are delicate architectures ranging from refined aristocratic masquerades to peasant dances full of unbridled celebration.

Mozart PS No.17 in CM, K.545 (545)

I suspect it's impossible to find a more Mozartian piece than the opening Allegro of this sonata (written "for beginners"). It's a never-quitting contrast between sweet, delicious ecstasy and stormy hints that always seem to dissolve into higher forms of playfulness. The Andante is a reworking of the (Anhong 135) Rondo (see the previous sonata), finally brought to its full potential. The concluding Rondo--Allegretto is a little jewel, a present from Mozart full of coyness and of that almost child-like playfulness he has become so infamous for to us all.

Mozart PS No.18 in BfM, K.570 (570)

One of the most enjoyable bits of gracefulness Mozart ever composed the opening Allegro is like a radiant heavenly sphere floating above us of its own sheen. This is Mozart at his most uncomplicated and masterful--if genius is the ability to grasp the complex and reduce it to its simplest truth, then Mozart indeed proves himself a genius indeed here. The Andante is like a midnight full of tree limbs threatening a grab at you where you maneuver your way to safety whistling in the dark--one can catch glimpses of something unsuspectedly spooky or tragic behind every noble tree. This music flows so naturally from the imagination it's truly awe-inspiring. The concluding Rondo--Allegretto is a romp through the playground that was Mozart's musical imagination. If one is looking for perfection embodied in musical form one need never look any further than here.

Mozart PS No.19 in DM, K.576 (576)

Military in spirit (this sonata is thought to have been composed for the Princess of Prussia), and quite passionate, the opening Allegro is almost heroic in its cavorting galloping through sweetly contrapunctual trysts; although there might be more of the high-horse than of the war-like steed here. The Adagio is even more emotionally-gripped still; a bittersweet reminder, perhaps, that had he not died as young as he did, this great genius would have surely become a formidable rival, foil, and inspiration to Beethoven and his contemporaries. (as it is, one will always wonder in sorrow what a Mozart Symphony No.60 might have been like--and what a Beethoven's 9th, had he heard Mozart's 60th). The concluding  Rondo only reinforces this forlorn regret.

S D Rodrian

       All    Copyright (P) 1997    Mr. S. D. Rodrian      

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