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Mozart: Piano Sonatas No. 7 - 12

Sonatas 7 – 12, composed between 1777 and about 1783, mark a significant evolution with respect to the preceding ones: Mozart’s expressive world now takes on many new facets, and in Sonata K 310 it reaches dramatic depths of unprecedented intensity and sombreness. In the other sonatas, too, although seemingly “lighter”, we find an infinity of expressive approaches that had never previously appeared with such naturalness and variety of inflections. However, Mozart always succeeds in maintaining an admirable balance between seriousness and facetiousness, between playfulness and drama, with constant originality in his management of form.

The instrument used in this recording is the same as in the previous one (sonatas 1 – 6), a Fazioli F 278 concert grand tuned in accordance with the Vallotti unequal temperament, with the aim of restoring a sonority that may recall the transparency and vitality of the fortepianos of the time. In the rare parts in which Mozart writes pp (pianissimo), the sordino is often used: a device generally actioned by a pedal, already present on the fortepianos of the time. It is a thin piece of felt, placed between the hammers and the strings, which provides a more intimate, muffled sound. The central part in F minor and the Coda of the second movement of Sonata K 330, for example, seem to me particularly suited to the use of this effect.
Great attention has been devoted to respecting the original articulations and dynamics, also in the cases in which they are indicated in the first edition but not in the manuscript. We know, in fact, that Mozart was very exacting in the revision of the first edition and that he added dynamic markings lacking in the manuscript, which he quite rightly wished to be respected with great precision. He wrote about Sonata K 309 in a letter to his father from Mannheim on 14 November 1777. “The Andante will give us most trouble, for it is full of expression, and must be played with accuracy and taste, and the fortes and pianos given just as they are marked.” Only in the case of Sonata K 331 has priority been given to the manuscript: its discovery in Budapest in 2014 has made it possible to correct some mistakes made by the copyist in the first and second movements, as specified in the illustrations included here, kindly provided by the National Széchényi Library in Budapest, where the manuscript is now preserved. The intention of getting as close as possible to the poetic heart of Mozart’s sonatas has led me to a reading that also leaves room for inventive freshness and the joy of playing with the inspiration of these works. In the ritornellos, here almost always performed, I have introduced some minimal variants, following the example given by Mozart himself in the sonatas in which he writes out the embellishments in his own hand. As in the previous recording, there are brief moments of improvised cadenza in the articulations and in the suspensions, with the idea of also restoring the enthusiasm and inspiration that undoubtedly characterised Mozart’s own performances.

Roberto Prosseda