About this Piece
In addition to everything else—composer of astonishing invention and fluency, virtuoso pianist, all-round boy wonder—Mozart was an accomplished violinist and violist. He could hardly have avoided it, as his father Leopold was a master violinist and the author of the leading violin manual of the day. So it is hardly surprising that Mozart composed a number of sonatas for violin and piano—or rather, for piano with violin. In the duo sonatas that Mozart composed throughout his career, there is a constant development of equality in the partnership, which initially placed the burden entirely on the keyboard and left the string part almost optional.
This progress was well advanced in the summer of 1781, when Mozart gathered a set of six sonatas for publication in his new home, Vienna. (Tellingly, this publication was dedicated to a pianist, Josepha von Auernhammer, not a violinist). “These sonatas are the only ones of their kind,” an anonymous reviewer wrote in the Hamburg Magazin der Musik in 1783. “They are rich in new ideas, showing traces of the great musical genius of their author.... Moreover, the violin accompaniment is so ingeniously combined with the piano part that both instruments are continuously employed; and thus these sonatas demand a violinist as accomplished as the pianist.”
K. 376 is the second of the set and, in many ways, the least flamboyant. A sense of calm and relaxation prevails in much of its opening movement, marked by a wealth of thematic material. The middle movement unfolds in leisurely fashion and is based on a single theme, heard under various guises. The Rondo finale displays considerable charm and elegance throughout, and its main theme is allowed to effortlessly fade away at the close.