W.A.Mozart :: Sonata n°16 in C Major KV 545

The "Sonate Facile"

This sonata, better known as the "sonate facile", a title given in a publication of 1805, is one of the later sonatas Mozart wrote. I give you first the index:

0:09 Allegro
4:36 Andante
9:29 Rondo Allegretto

In his own index, Mozarts titles this work as "Eine kleine Klavier-Sonate für anfänger", or, "A little keyboard sonata for beginners", dated 26 June 1788.
The translation is not without problems, and definitely the translation of the NMA as 'piano-sonata', is without any historical reference, which is so surprising for this otherwise so easy to recommend institute of knowledge, accuracy and carefulness.
Anyway, we talked about this before, and we will again, what the definition of the German term Clavier is, and in which area it had which meaning. I am not an academic, so I do not have an overview of all publication on this interesting topic. I would love to read more on this, especially in the Viennese period, since the situation of the Bach tradition is rather clear (Clavier = clavichord), so don't hesitate to let me know what sources you have.

So, Mozart wrote this sonata for real beginners.
Did he have a clue what a beginner was? Or, what one could expect from a normal gifted human being starting with his/her musical education? Or do we misinterpret the term "Anfänger" (beginners). I don't want to state here that this sonata is a really difficult one to play, no, but in general, if I recollect my five years or so in the basic music education as a piano/organ teacher, I could think of only one little boy that would have been able to play this sonata more or less after two or three years of study. Then, I suppose, one is still a "beginner", but in the case of this boy, he was extremely gifted, played some Bach in his first year in a way, well, so well articulated, phrased, metrically accentuated, ... all by himself. He was constantly moving on his bench, sometimes even trying to sit upside down, and his mother, almost depressed about so much activity and cleverness, entrusted me stunning details, under which that he was able to read the newspaper titles at the age of four, even without helping him much to learn the letters or their meaning. I had only the chance to touch this boy's talent, and when I quit my teaching job one day, the mother refused to come with his child to the new class, and I lost definitive track when she refused my offer to teach him in private for free, the rest of his adolescence.

All to say that this sonata is not for the average, even not the very good beginners. But for whatever beginner Mozart had in mind, he did a very clever job. First by writing a so simple but stunningly beautiful piece of music. But also in combining different techniques "in small". Scales, right hand, left hand, alberti basses, broken chords, trills, independence of both hands (e.g. bar 18 etc), modulations, ...
But the endings of part 1 and 3 are particularly difficult. It might be my problem, but I find the closing of the first movement hard to play. The right hand has to jump two octaves, the left hand not even one full octave. And the last unison note is again divided between both hands, differently than one feels to be natural. Mozart did this on purpose, that's so easy to feel, as in the closing of the last movement, less obviously than in the first one, but for sure a passage that must be looked at carefully.

The expression of the first part is to me of a childlike happiness, innocent, spring, blue sky, butterflies flying everywhere in a meadow with fresh spring flowers in all colours. Details, careful accentuation and articulation, choice of movement in line with this feeling is essential to me for this first part.

The second part is the "telling-the-story"-movement. The tempo ensured by the left hand, ever ongoing, and the right hand, constantly telling, telling, telling. I might have chosen a somewhat fast tempo according to Mozart's choice for "andante", leaning perhaps more to allegretto, but that is not as simple as it looks. Notation and tempo choice are connected, the tempo word is influencing this connection, not changing it in essence. Not easy to explain in two words. Something I would like to elaborate more. Sometime... The third part a playing of children, jumping and imitating, full of joy, and childlike feelings, always big and absolute, like the wonderful modulation to A minor. It should not be played too fast to my feeling, giving room to all elements to give their place they deserve and to the audience the time to capture it in real-time!

Thanks for watching

Wim

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