Sonata in A major K.331 ‘Alla Turca’

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)
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Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (b. 1756 - d. 1791)

Performance date: 24/06/2023

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1783

Duration: 00:23:58

Recording Engineer: Gar Duffy, RTÉ

Instrumentation: pf

Instrumentation Category:Solo

Artists: Cédric Tiberghien - [piano]

Sonata in A major K.331 ‘Alla Turca’ [1783]

1. Andante grazioso

2. Menuetto

3. Alla Turca: Allegretto


This most popular of Mozart’s works was written in Salzburg in 1783. It is the only piano sonata in A and its first movement is, most unusually, a theme and variations. The tranquil theme is indeed graceful, mainly in three parts and its melodic range is only one octave. There follow six variations which, apart from the sparkling No.6, are almost devoid of any brilliant displays. Instead, Mozart focuses on legato and expressive writing especially in No.3 in the minor, in No.4 with smooth crossing of hands and in No.5, a refined Adagio. Humour is expressed in both No.2 and No.6 with the use of appoggiaturas. This final variation already hints at the Turkish rondo that forms the finale. 

Elegance is in abundance in both the Menuetto and its accompanying Trio in D. The latter is exceptionally refined and conjures up images of 18th century ballroom scenes. The Alla Turca finale was probably written at around the same time as the Turkish music in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, also dating from that period. The effect of this simple material, alternating between minor and major, is compelling and the F sharp minor episode absolutely enchanting. On the final page the ‘orchestra’ rejoices triumphantly.

Martino Tirimo