My Mozart roots go back to early childhood, as do those of most pianists, and include long and happy associations with a number of his incomparable piano works, especially the concerti, in my touring years. A longtime bond with the Sonata in A Major, K. 331 began when I played the third movement at around age seven. In my sheet music it was called by its English title, Turkish March. It was fun then, and it’s fun now as the Alla Turca. A few years after my first Turkish March experience, I became acquainted with the sonata’s other two movements, and played the work on an early recital program. This sonata has stayed with me ever since: the touching simplicity of the first movement’s theme; the first gentle, and slightly questioning variation, with its affirmative finish to each section; the cheery variation with running triplets; the gliding minor variation; the magical variation with thirds soaring gently in the treble; the aria-like variation, almost a movement on its own; and of course the bright, cheery last variation. I’ve always heard hints of the “Turkish” element also suggested in that wonderfully inventive first movement, and even extended to the Menuetto second movement. In the Menuetto, I have long imagined an 18th century gilded ballroom filled with dancers in period costumes, whose varied subtle personal emotions and communications weave throughout the dance.
Listen to the Mozart Piano Sonata in A Major, K. 331 on Spotify: