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Santa Barbara Music Club Always Free Concerts
May 19 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pmFree
The concert opens with the vibrant Sonata in B-flat major, K. 333 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of his most beautiful and challenging keyboard works. Composed in 1783, it is called the “Linz” Sonata as Mozart wrote it specifically to premiere at a concert in that Austrian city, and it subsequently became a favorite of his to perform. The first movement, “Allegro,” features a dazzling interplay of melodic inspiration, together with bravura passagework enhanced with delicate filigree. The central movement, “Andante cantabile,” is clearly influenced by Mozart’s experience as an opera composer, and its intimate lyricism may justifiably be compared with those of his most touchingly poignant arias. The “Allegretto grazioso” final movement bears distinct concerto influences, including an opening theme that alternates between “solo” and “orchestral” effects, and is replete with a pseudo-improvised cadenza.
Mozart’s Rondo in A minor, K. 511, composed in March of 1787, bespeaks a profound change in the cheerful and successful life of the composer: when formerly his pianistic and compositional virtuosity was acclaimed by the Viennese nobility, it now was beginning to be met with lack of understanding and even displeasure at its bold digressions from the traditional. The opening measures of this elegant work reveal an impassioned yet anguished undercurrent that is maintained throughout the entire composition: Mozart is no longer merely exposing a myriad of exquisite ideas, but rather striving to display their underlying moods. The keyboard writing, too, has changed, with the style now being more reminiscent of his late string quartets and quintets.
It should be noted that Mozart used the A minor tonality in a piano composition only one other time—in his Sonata K. 310, which he composed in May of 1778 after receiving news that his mother had passed away. It is intriguing to conjecture as to the events that prompted this reprise.
In stirring opposition to the above, the concert ends with Serge Prokofiev’s powerful Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 83 (“Stalingrad”). Composed between 1939 and 1942 and completed and premiered during the Battle of Stalingrad — the Red Army’s defense of that city – the music gives insight into the turbulence and extreme contrasts that must have been experienced during that period.
The opening “Allegro inquieto” (restless, uneasy Allegro) immediately conjures up the agitated, intense, and unexpected histrionics which permeate the movement. The ensuing “Andante caloroso” (warm Andante) diverges impressively, as if to soothe the preceding choppiness with a marvelously smooth and romantic tone, almost unctuous in its leisurely progressions. The “Precipitato” (rash and hasty) designation for the Finale is a precise description for that toccata-like movement, a perpetual motion of incessant tension; in 7/8 meter, the propulsive rhythmic patterns proceed inexorably toward the impending climax.