Analysisof First Movement of Mozart Piano Sonata in C Major K.279 no. 1
TheSonata in C Major K.279 no. 1 was composed by Wolfgang Mozart in1774. The sonata is in three movements. The first movement namesallegro, does not have a notable opening theme. The movementcommences with a baroque characteristic of four diverse motifs.Allegro fails to achieve a melodic richness, which the two othermovements attain. The structure of the first movement is transparentas it commences in G minor, moves to G major before moving forrecapitulation in C major.
Thefirst bar of the exposition starts with the left hand’s turningfigure. The turning figure forms the core theme of the firstmovement. An alberti bass for the left hand is introduced after arepeat of the first two opening bars, while the melody of theintroductory turning figure is played by the right hand. The firstsubject of the first movement is manifested in the opening segmentwhere color is introduced through the chromatic appoggiaturas (Cliff1). The second subject commences immediately after the imperfectcadence which introduces the sonata to the dominant G major. Thesecond subject is characterized by rapid scales and it ends in Gmajor with a perfect cadence (Irving 55). The exposition is repeatedas it is the norm for sonatas. The development commences in G minor.This introduces the theme which is characterized by several keysplayed in a sequence of rising arpeggios which moves to G major andfinally to C major- the home key. The recapitulation is similar tothe exposition. The imperfect cadence in the recapitulationintroduces the final 10 bars played in the home key. The movementends in a perfect cadence with three bars elaborating the main key.
Transitionin the first movement is merely three bars. The transition ischaracterized by the end of music in C major- half a cadence. Theexposition starts in free fantasia where the first subject is in thetonic key. The exposition transits into the second theme of thedominant G major, in the recapitulation (Irving 51) The exposition isfollowed by a codetta which is repeated before transiting into therecapitulation. The recapitulation is first performed in F major andlater transits into the second subject in the tonic key. Themovements end with a repeated codetta.
Insonatas, the recapitulation is preceded by the exposition, and isusually in the tonic key. The recapitulation ends with the musicsounding as if it is terminated. The music following this terminationis known as the codetta. In sonata 1 in C major, the codetta comesimmediately after the exposition. The codetta is played twice. Thesecond codetta comes after the recapitulation and it is also playedtwice (Cliff 1).
Theopening theme of color is introduced through the use ofappoggiaturas. The music is full of fantasies and is played in thetonic key of C major. The first subject of the music is manifestedin bars 29-41 and the transition into the next theme is experiencedin bars 42-45 (Marks 1). The main theme is in free fantasia althoughit is characterized by unexpected rich harmonic and modulations. Themain theme centered on the tonic key and it gradually moves to the Gmajor. This second section manifested in bars 46-48 is centered onthe theme of rapid scales which gradually move away from G major intoG minor (Marks 1). There is a rich use of arpeggios as the thememoves back to the tonic C from G major. A transitional exposition inbars 58-59 is manifested through the codetta. The second subjectcommences from bar 72 and goes through an exposition of the final 10bars in an imperfect cadence. The final three bars are played in thetonic key and the movement ends in a perfect cadence (Marks 1).
TheAllegro is full of harmonic freedom manifested through the arpeggiosand change of keys. Mozart effectively structures the movement insonata form and moves the keys from C major, to G major, G minor andback to the Tonic C. The work quickly transits from G major to therecapitulation in C. The left hand is very active due to theintroduction of the Alberti bass after the first two bars (Marks 1).The section’s harmonic flow is manifested through the refinedmanner in which the tonic key is integrated with G major and G minor,creating various themes. The movement commences with astraightforward development characterized by arpeggios, but latermoves into a different theme in bar 40. Mozart shifts the theme intoa minor key which acts as a transition from G major into the tonic C.The tonic is elaborated in the last three bars as the movement endsin the tonic (Cliff 1).
MarksHelena. Thesonata : its form and meaning as exemplified in the piano sonatas byMozart a descriptive analysis.Charleston,SC: Nabu Press, 2012. Web <http://archive.org/stream/sonataitsformmea00mark/sonataitsformmea00mark_djvu.txt>
IrvingJohn. Mozart’s Piano sonatas. Chippenham:Cambridge UniversityPress, 1997. Print.
CliffEisen, et al. "Mozart." In Oxford Music Onlinehttp://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40258pg3