The City of Vienna stands at one of the historic crossroads of the world, linking east and west and embracing artistic influences from all sides. In the 250th anniversary year of Mozart’s birth, this fantasy on Mozart’s celebrated Piano Sonata in A (K331), has been composed true to the form and content of the original, but also to the underlying substance of the conception.
One of Mozart’s distinguishing features, and one that links him to later music by Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler and Schoenberg, is the breadth of his musical vision. His music links intellectual rigour with ecstatic utterance and darker preoccupations. It is, perhaps, this shadow-laden side of his musical nature which gives his work a profundity often absent in the work of his contemporaries. Admirers of his Requiem Mass or the Statue music in Don Giovanni will recognise that it is this extra sense of reality which makes Mozart so relevant to the modern age, and where he may link hands with the other great Viennese thinkers such as Berg, Webern and Adorno.
The composer follows the three movement plan of the Sonata closely. The original begins with a Theme and Variations which is freely quoted. His Minuet is mirrored in the Recitative and Notturno, where each section of the band lays down a metaphoric rose to his memory. Famously, the sonata ends in populistic style with a Turkish Rondo. Ever since the Hapsburg-Ottoman Wars, which came to an end in the seventeenth century, Viennese composers have included Turkish elements in their music, not least in the use of certain percussion instruments. Vienna Nights is thusly a homage.
It celebrates the world’s greatest composer, but also the city which fostered his work. Here, in your imagination, you might easily conjure up a café table near the Opera House, where Mozart, Mahler and Sigmund Freud, observed by us all from a discreet distance, may meet as old friends.