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Mozart Variations, Op.9 composed by Fernando Sor

Argondizza, Peter and Scott, Calum (2008) Mozart Variations, Op.9 composed by Fernando Sor. Birnam CD.

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Abstract

O Cara Armonia- is the famous 'Mozart Variations, Op.9' composed by Fernando Sor based on his adaptation of the melody 'Das Klinget so Herrlich' from Mozart's singspiel 'Die Zauberflote'. Sor, as a composer and guitarist, was concerned more with part writing and balance on the guitar rather than the overt instrumental brilliant Italian style exemplified by Giuliani. Nevertheless, this set of variations does show the more virtuosic side of Sor's guitar writing whilst projecting a sense of continuity and development through the variations. Why did Sor paraphrase Mozart's 'Das Klinget so Herrlich' rather then present the original simple melody unaltered? He did, in a later published work, Op. 19: Six airs from The Magic Flute, present an essentially unaltered arrangement of this borrowed tune (amongst others). Perhaps one explanation is that when in London, Sor became familiar with an Italian language production of the 'The Magic Flute'- a version that was very popular with the English public-and may have chosen this version of the melody to cater to the tastes of the British public. Another justification is that Sor's adaptation was more suited to the guitar fingerboard than the original and, additionally, the adapted melody was more appropriate for a set of variations. Whatever the reasons, Sor's 'Mozart Variations' commence with a dramatic introduction in the minor mode (composed by Sor- not Mozart). The light sixteen-bar 'Mozart' theme follows, which is then treated to five variations and a coda. The variations range from graceful and decorative to dance-like and playful; deeply lyrical (in parallel minor) to virtuosic displays of quintuplets, triplets followed by a coda. Though Sor did write sonatas and other extended works his strength was as a miniaturist and these variations are models of textural innovation and musical ingenuity that show him at his best.