About this work
Commissioned during the grand age of the mania for automata, Mozart managed to write this musically substantial work for a mechanical organ. The piece does satisfy the non-variant metrics required, but it is difficult to imagine how the machine designer could have programmed the machine to produce the magnificent micro-variations that could imitate the sensitive inflections achievable by a live performer on the normal organ in a performance of this work (as compared to programming a music box waltz, for example). The piece opens with a steady, tragic march tempo, accented by large chords on the downbeat, with simple canonic imitation "answers" to the treble in the bass part. There follows a fughetta with an unusual skipping, repeated note pattern that makes the minor key feel somewhat more dance-like. This is interrupted by a flowing passage on diminished-seventh chords, then the opening chords are recalled and modulated into new, more confident pathways. Pause. A delicate, major key pastoral melody sounds gently in the distance, never quite approaching near. It is varied by moderate scale runs in mostly eighth notes and simple embellishments. Suddenly, the melody shines out like the morning sun, and begins to modulate back toward the initial march tempo which has now picked up in energy. A second fughetta passage begins with a subject made from the passing tones of the pastoral tune but with a more serious air. We are led back to the opening chords again. A third fughetta begins, its subject a passing tone (scale-run) variation of the opening march tune, summing up briefly the techniques used for all the previous sections. The piece concludes with a grand cadence.
Curated by Mariana Pimenta, Soprano