Mozart Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major K526
In 1787, Mozart published this Sonata K526 as well as the famous Eine Kleine Nachtmusic. This was a time when Mozart was also publishing popular piano trios in an effort to make up for his publishers’ disappointing sales of the piano quartets two years before.
I like the K526 sonata because it is rich in character and invention, and has interesting modulations. This is especially true of the finale – never a dull moment! My only reservation is that, in contrast to the first two movements, the finale gives the piano several solos without the violin; Mozart was a brilliant pianist and his audience may have expected some bravura piano solos. Also the finale’s contrapuntal style suits the keyboard rather than a violin; although Mozart was also a violin and viola player, he is not writing sympathetically for the violin.
The closing Presto of K526 has, as model, the finale of a sonata for keyboard, violin and continuo (Op 5, No 5) by K F Abel, who had died in London in June 1786. Abel was a great gamba player, a friend of Mozart, and a colleague of J C Bach in the thriving London musical circle patronised by King George III.
H Robbins Landon states that Mozart wrote two of his most outstanding chamber works in 1787, and this sonata is one of them. He says of the first movement Molto Allegro that rapid changes of thematic material are shared equally between violin and piano; that the Andante has a fragmentary melodic line and disconcertingly expressive accompaniment (each instrument taking turns to accompany the other); and that, in the virtuoso finale (Presto), Mozart has suspended the distinction between melody and accompaniment in a lean contrapuntal texture.
Landon notes among other things that, in 1787, Joseph II of Austria abolished capital punishment and child labour, the first convicts were about to arrive in Sydney, and there were riots in Paris (leading up to the 1789 revolution).
Robbins Landon H C (ed) 1990 The Mozart Compendium. Thames and Hudson, London.
Gutman R W 1999 Mozart. Secker & Warburg, London.