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Some More Variations on a Theme by Mozart - Nov. 2016 Competition

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Here is my entry for the November, 2016 competition.  Hopefully this uploads right....

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Here is the theme.  I forgot to include it in the above post:

 

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A lot of interesting ideas. My favorite variation is the 3rd (what do you mean with "upside down"?), and the Chorale also was beautiful. The Finale is very nice in his light, unpretentious fashion.

The only quibble I have is that the Variations do not retain the same aura of restrained sadness present in the Theme. But we are talking perhaps of the most wonderful movement in a piano Concerto: surely a tough nut to crack!

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I enjoyed listening to your variations! I'm with Emiliano in favoring the chorale but the fourth variation is also fun. I kind of don't like the cello and bass lines there because they seem potentially lazy to me. However that variation is still one of my favorites of the set so maybe I'm internally contradicting myself in being critical of it. Anyway, nice job! I think it's funny that I derive so much pleasure from listening to a style of music so distant to my own. Good luck with the competition!

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Mozart variations - Full score.mp3

At the request of Monarcheon, I am uploading a single file for the mp3 and a single file for the score.  None of the notes or markings, etc., has been changed, although a couple of changes were made by removing my name from each variation, for example, since that wouldn't have made sense in a single file.

Thanks to the above posters for listening and commenting!

On 11/26/2016 at 11:04 AM, Emiliano Manna said:

A lot of interesting ideas. My favorite variation is the 3rd (what do you mean with "upside down"?), and the Chorale also was beautiful. The Finale is very nice in his light, unpretentious fashion.

The only quibble I have is that the Variations do not retain the same aura of restrained sadness present in the Theme. But we are talking perhaps of the most wonderful movement in a piano Concerto: surely a tough nut to crack!

 

"Inverted" might have been the correct word.  The theme is G, Eb (or E, in the major), D, C.  In the third variation, though, it goes G, C, D, E, ascending rather than descending.  

If I had completed more of the variations, it might have been more balanced, though I would not presume to be able to write at Mozart's level!...  ;)  There certainly is a risk when using a theme from such a great movement (some have argued it's Mozart's best concerto finale) and Mozart himself wrote variations on it.  As I was getting close to the deadline, I suddenly realized I had written down a few too many of the major-key variations and not enough of the minor-key ones, so that's why it is a bit biased toward the major.  

On 12/7/2016 at 10:27 AM, KJthesleepdeprived said:

I enjoyed listening to your variations! I'm with Emiliano in favoring the chorale but the fourth variation is also fun. I kind of don't like the cello and bass lines there because they seem potentially lazy to me. However that variation is still one of my favorites of the set so maybe I'm internally contradicting myself in being critical of it. Anyway, nice job! I think it's funny that I derive so much pleasure from listening to a style of music so distant to my own. Good luck with the competition!

 

Thanks  :)  Maybe you enjoy it BECAUSE you don't (or can't?) write in that style?  I know there are many pieces (not simply classical) which I love but which wouldn't come naturally at all to me, or maybe I wouldn't even make an attempt at writing that way but admire it greatly, maybe all the more because it's beyond me how they came up with it.  

As for the fourth variation, I felt that there was enough movement going on in the upper voices and that a pedal was needed.  If it had been a full orchestra, I think this would have been covered by handing it to the brass and/or bassoons and then maybe the lower strings would have been needed to give more power to the violas and second violin.  (Someone with real-life experience, please feel free to chime in about how the balance would work out.)  A small part of the bass line in Variation VI (one octave up, one octave down) also references the earlier variation as a way to tie it in a bit.  

Thanks for listening!

 

EDIT: Is there a way to stop the below file from playing at the same time as the above?  It seemed like I loaded this page and both played at once.

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I enjoyed these variations.  Of course, it's hard to live up to the theme you chose - but the variations are sufficiently diverse in style that one doesn't really feel as if they are competing with Mozart's theme.  I personally wasn't crazy about the scherzando variation; harmonically, it just felt a bit at odds with the style of the others.  Or perhaps it's just a bit too scherzando for my taste.  But the pizzicato is witty, the chorale is lovely, and the final variation was a very suitable finale.  Nice work.

Edited by Aiwendil

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These are quite good! It was fun to listen to the different variations, and they were varied enough to keep things interesting. Some of the writing in the variations reminded of me of Schubert's handling of his theme and variations in Death and the Maiden's 2nd movement. 

My one complaint: your string writing is too rigid....in the sense that the 1st violin always has the melody, and the cello/bass always have the bass line. Try to mix it up a little! Those 1st violins will be tired with all the pizzicato in the 2nd variation, try to pass some of the material to the 2nd violins. Little stuff like that.  

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