Rondo

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Rondo in F major

K494

About this work

Of the three rondos that Mozart composed for solo piano in the years 1786-1787, this one is the least popular. That said, it is still widely performed and recorded. For a rondo, it has a fairly complex structure, eschewing the more common A-B-A-C-A pattern or close variants on it. Instead, it follows the scheme A-B-A-C-D-A-E-A-B'-(A). But for all of its seeming complexity, the work conveys a sense of innocence and simplicity of character, its moods generally light, transformations from one section to another subtle and seamless or deftly pointing up contrast, and the music on the whole direct and charming. Mozart added a cadenza to this rondo in 1788 and used this new version as the finale to his Piano Sonata in F major (K. 533). The main theme of the Rondo is playful and filled with childlike innocence, the melody line delicately played in the upper register. Soon, the work takes on a slightly more muscular manner and even darkens a bit. Later -- about midway through -- the music turns somewhat stately and serious in mood. Still, it never quite sheds its chipper playfulness throughout the transformations, and the main theme makes several spirited re-appearances, bringing along much sunshine. The closing statement of the theme appears in the lower register, sounding cleverly oafish and quite charming. This work typically has a duration of around six minutes, a half-minute or so longer with the cadenza.

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