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Mozart’s 'Viennese' Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin according to Ferdinand David: A survey of editorial and violin performance practices

Stowell, Robin 2012. Mozart’s 'Viennese' Sonatas for Keyboard and Violin according to Ferdinand David: A survey of editorial and violin performance practices. Harlow, Martin, ed. Mozart's Chamber Music with Keyboard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 69-103.

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Sources such as the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik and Felix Mendelssohn’s own correspondence record that Mendelssohn performed a number of Mozart’s sonatas for keyboard and violin with Spohr’s pupil Ferdinand David in Leipzig in the early 1840s. David later produced an edition of Mozart’s works in the genre, published by Breitkopf und Härtel. This chapter focuses on David’s edition of the sonatas that Mozart composed in Vienna between 1781 and 1788 (i.e from the B flat major Sonata K.378 onwards), examining some of its implications principally for violin performance practice. While these editions are substantially faithful and accurate with regard to note-durations and pitches (although David does introduce, for example, some ossia passages), there are numerous examples where matters of phrasing, articulation and expression (indications of tempo variation and other interpretative detail as well as dynamic markings) differ substantially from the most authoritative textual sources. David’s fingering annotations will give rise to a discussion of his approaches to shifting, including his use of portamento as an aesthetic resource, the cultivation of una corda playing for timbral effect, and the incidence of natural harmonics and/or open strings to assist the position change (which in turn has implications for his vibrato usage). David’s approach to right-hand technique will also be explored, including his predilection for on-the-string bowings and a range of détaché strokes (and in what would appear to modern violinists to be in an unorthodox part of the bow), his use of slurred staccato, the range and meaning of his various other bowing indications (e.g. dots, strokes and other markings) and his evident overall aim to cultivate a legato, singing style. A style of performance far removed from that of Mozart’s time will be revealed.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781107002487
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Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:59

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