“Mozart’s Mannheim Sonatas”, a highly interesting & informative article written by John W. Pratt was published by Flute Focus on November 5, 2012. John has contributed numerous arrangements & transcriptions to NSM’s catalog, including transcriptions for alto flute of all the "Mannheim" sonatas. We re-publish his article here, with permission.
Mozart’s Mannheim Sonatas
Written by John W. Pratt
In 1777-78, on the way to Mannheim, where he wrote the first two of his flute quartets, Mozart became acquainted with six violin sonatas by Joseph Schuster. He was sufficiently impressed that he sent them to his sister and planned to write six himself in the same style. In fact he wrote seven, now known as the “Mannheim sonatas”. He started work on them around the time he finished the second of the flute quartets, completing five in Mannheim and two (K.304 and K.306) later in Paris after his mother died. They are the first violin sonatas of his maturity, and are not only as delightful as one would expect, but also significant in his musical development and the development of chamber-music style generally. They elevate the violin to an interesting and essential role and advance the interplay between the instruments. The violin leads as often as the piano and is crucial to the orchestration but is largely spared Mozart's typical keyboard passage work.
Flutists regret that Mozart created so little chamber music featuring the flute. Along with the four flute quartets, there remains only a diminutive Adagio and Rondo for glass-harmonica, flute, oboe, viola, and cello (K.617). Happily the violin parts of the Mannheim sonatas are perfectly suited to transcription for alto flute. They rarely make significant use of double stops and their range and character are in general well served by the alto. In fact, K.301 was begun with flute in mind, and Alfred Einstein  points to “the flutelike character of K.303 as well”. Indeed the flute can execute with elegance some accompaniment figures that Einstein considers “not really appropriate” to the violin.
The six sonatas K.301-306 were published as a set in 1778. K.296, among the earliest composed, was not published until 1781. K.296 and K.306 have three movements each. The rest, like most of Schuster's, have only two movements in the style of the older tradition (although Mozart had all along included significant slow middle movements in his solo piano sonatas). The movements display great variety, however. In particular, they almost all differ structurally, whether because Mozart wanted to experiment, gave rein to his fertile imagination, reacted creatively to his musical materials, or all three. Some highlights of the individual sonatas are described below.
K.301 pairs a sunny Allegro con spirito with what amounts to a charming allegrominuet with a trio section in the minor, although it is as near a Beethoven scherzo as a Haydn minuet. The ebullient K.302 has an Allegro with an unusual call to attention in 3/4 time, and a rondo, Andante grazioso, with a forward-moving theme that is variously and charmingly re-orchestrated.
Both movements of K.303 are quite different from others of the set. The first is in sonata form without development, in an older style in some ways but advanced in others. In the exposition, the first theme and transition to the dominant are adagio while the second theme is allegro; in the recapitulation, the violin elaborates the adagio first theme and the piano figures accompanying the allegro second theme are inverted. Sadie  says Mozart derived this structure from Schuster, while Einstein harks back to Mozart's “beloved Johann Christian Bach” and says, "it is noticeable at times that he [Mozart] finds himself on new and unexplored paths." The second movement is an old-style minuet (without trio), ending with a pedal point terminating in a tremble.
K.304 initiated my interest in the Mannheim sonatas. Mozart's works in minor keys are rare and special; consider his Symphony No.40 and the G-minor quintet. K.304, his only work in E minor, and the piano sonata in A minor, K.310, were written the summer that his mother died, an association often noted. K.304 epitomizes Mozart’s ability to achieve great power with spare means. Einstein says it "is one of the miracles among Mozart's works; it springs from the most profound depths of emotion and goes beyond the alternating dialogue style to knock at those gates of the great world of drama which Beethoven was to fling wide open. Mozart does not become pathetic, and this reserve, this concealment of an inner fire, together with--in the portion in major of the Tempo di Minuetto--a brief glimpse of bliss, only enhances the mysterious power of this apparently ‘little’ sonata. As always when Mozart is deeply in earnest, he has recourse to ... counterpoint; in this sonata he uses it to accentuate the transitions." The bliss is so sublime that one is tempted to take an extra repeat.
Whereas K.304 is by far the most introspective of the Mannheim sonatas, K.305 is perhaps the most completely extroverted. Like K.302, it opens with four emphatically tonic measures, followed by a gentle, linear four-bar theme, all immediately repeated. Here, however, the repeat is identical and is omitted in the recapitulation, while the first half of the development is based on inverting the opening material. The second movement of K.305 is the only movement of the Mannheim sonatas in theme-and-variations form. It is far from routine. The theme has an unusual variety of rhythms and accompaniment figurations; the 32nd-note variation is the very first; the minor variation is at the prevailing tempo; and a brief piano cadenza interrupts the antepenultimate variation’s peroration. The violin contributes to the inventiveness, variously leading, trading ideas with the piano, playing in thirds with it, adding color in unison or octaves, and even staying silent for a whole variation.
K.306 is the longest and showiest of the Mannheim sonatas, having three large-scale movements with some almost orchestral textures, much doubling, and brilliant passage work. The first movement’s development, after an 8-bar canon to set the stage, expands four transitional bars of the exposition into a far-reaching harmonic excursion in twelve 2-bar steps. The recapitulation begins with the second subject and returns to the first so late it amounts to a coda, the only instance of ‘mirror’ sonata-form in the Mannheim set. In contrast, the second movement, Andante cantabile, has a structurally orthodox sonata form, compressing and ornamenting the themes in the recapitulation, as befits the tempo. The finale is an elaborate rondo alternating between allegretto in 2/4 and allegro in 6/8, with several grand pauses and a huge, 46-bar cadenza initiated by the piano with the violin joining in (compare the piano’s arpeggio terminating in a chromatic scale in a single bar of K.304).
Mozart dedicated K.296 to his pupil Therese-Pierron Serrarius, his Mannheim landlord’s 15-year old daughter. If Mozart responded to her youthfulness, however, it was not with smaller scale or easier writing but with, for example, turns brightening the opening fanfares, quick trills in the first theme, and contrasting textures and sparkling interplay between the instruments. (Sadie calls K.296 “light, almost playful”.) The first movement follows “normal” sonata form although the recapitulation omits the last part of the first subject, this part having been used to open a rather short development which consists otherwise of new material. Einstein says the second movement, Andante sostenuto, “is an instrumental arietta, of which both the theme and the character of the accompaniment are taken almost note for note from an aria by the London master [Johann Christian Bach] (Dolce aurette). But in Johann Christian we find none of the daring modulations of the middle section.” In the concluding Rondo, the instruments swap the theme at the opening and the two returns, as well as much of the episodic material. The first episode modulates to the dominant where there is a “second theme”, and the second episode recapitulates this second theme in the tonic after modulating to the relative minor and the subdominant. The movement is thus a sonata-rondo.
I have transcribed the violin parts of all seven of the Mozart Mannheim sonatas for alto flute, so that my flute duo partner and I, and flute-piano partnerships generally, could enjoy playing and performing these wonderful pieces. We hope others will find them as delightful as we have.
 Einstein, Alfred, 1945. Mozart, trans. Mendel and Broder, Oxford U. Press, pp.253-255.
 Sadie, Stanley, 1980. “Mozart” in The New Grove, Stanley Sadie ed., Macmillan, vol. 12, p.697.
—John W. Pratt, 2012 ©
John W. Pratt is a retired Harvard Business School professor and pianist whose transcriptions and arrangements are published by Noteworthy Sheet Music, LLC (visit www.NoteworthySheetMusic.com to view all his catalog listings).
This review of Elizabeth Vercoe's piece Butterfly Effects for flute(s) and harp was written by Nicole Riner and first published in the Fall 2015 issue of The Flutist Quarterly, the membership magazine of the National Flute Association. We reprint the review here in it's entirety, with permission from the National Flute Association. You may also read the review on the NFA website at http://www.nfaonline.org/.
Elizabeth Vercoe is a prolific, highly regarded composer with a large repertoire of mixed chamber music to her credit. Butterfly Effects was written for Peter H. Bloom and harpist Mary Jane Rupert. It sonically depicts seven different varieties of butterfly utilizing harp and, in various combinations, C flute, alto, bass, and piccolo. Each of the work’s seven movements employs different musical styles. Banded Blue Parrot creates a fluttering effect in the flute part over exciting extended techniques in the harp. Common Jezebel is a tango for bass flute and harp; Question Mark, also for bass flute, employs beat boxing and slap key technique. Monkey Puzzle is written in retrograde motion from the middle to the end of the movement, and Karner Blues is a cleverly written blues tune for piccolo and harp. Each movement is brief, with none over three minutes and several clocking in around the one-minute mark. Butterfly Effects requires a variety of sounds and styles from both performers, as both parts request various extended techniques and a high level of technical prowess. The most easily entertaining of the movements, the tango and the blues riffs, are well written and very catchy. The more abstract moments are fascinating and capture beautiful colors from the duo. Vercoe’s writing is well crafted throughout. As a flute-harp duo, Butterfly Effects definitely has its eye on the future; at times atmospheric, at other times incredibly precise, this piece expands the repertoire for this ensemble, which is often relegated to Impressionistic musings. It is an artful exploration of all that the instruments can do and a wonderful addition to the modern chamber musician’s library. —Nicole Riner
FALL 2015 THE FLUTIST QUARTERLY NFAONLINE.ORG
© 2015 This review was published in The Flutist Quarterly, the membership magazine of the National Flute Association, and appears here with permission.
The following new music review of our edition of Coolun, a favorite Irish Air with Four Variations, arranged by Charles Nicholson, appeared in the January, 2014 issue of Flute Talk magazine. Subscribers may view the review, written by Katherine Borst Jones, as originally published in either the print or online edition of Flute Talk.
(3-4) Flute - Coolun, a favorite Irish Air with Four Variations
Composed by Traditional
Arranged by Charles Nicholson
This work is arranged for flute with an ad libitum accompaniment for piano or harp. This is a facsimile edition plus a re-notated flute part. The air is delightful, in G major, in an easy range of low D to E above the staff. The variations move from 16ths, to 16ths in sixes, to a grace-note variation, to finally a 32nd-note variation, that could be played by a fine junior high or senior high player as an introduction to variation-style composition. Included in the edition are the historically appropriate glides, aptly described. Also included are excellent notes. Charles Nicholson is known for his “School of the Flute” and for the inspiration he provided Theobald Boehm, as he was known to play with a larger than normal tone for the time, due to his stature. Available from the website as a PDF or in published form. ($11.99 www.NoteworthySheetMusic.com) K.B.J.
The following review of the compact disc Elizabeth Vercoe: Kleemation and Other Works written by Lee Passarella was published on September 26, 2013 in Audiophile Audition magazine. Noteworthy Sheet Music is proud to publish sheet music for Elizabeth Vercoe's works, including two pieces performed on this CD - the title track Kleemation for flute and piano, and To Music for flute alone (the bold font used to highlight these pieces was added by NSM).
“ELIZABETH VERCOE: Kleemation and Other Works” = Kleemation for flute and piano; Fantasy; Irreveries from Sappho; Herstory II: 13 Japanese Lyrics; To Music; Despite our differences #1 – Peter H. Bloom (Kleemation) and Nancy Stagnitta (To Music), flute / Mary Jane Rupert (Kleemation), Rosemary Platt (Fantasy, Irreveries), Randall Hodgkinson (Herstory), and Christine Paraschos (Despite our differences #1), piano / Elsa Chariston, sop. / Sharon Mabry, mezzo-soprano / Dean Anderson, percussion / Joseph Sheer, violin / Karen Kaderavek, cello / Richard Pittman (Herstory) and Theodore Antoniou (Despite our differences #1), dir. – Navona NV5884, 68:00 ***1/2:
Navona can be applauded for exploring the range of styles available to contemporary American composers, one that is really breathtaking, as the composers represented on these two discs attest. Styles range from the chromatic/atonal music of Elizabeth Vercoe through the frankly Reichian minimalism of Scott Pender to the modal, folk-influenced work of Daniel Perttu. Lots of very different musical influences here, as richly, confusingly varied as the styles that American painting or poetry can muster in the early twenty-first century. And while I’m glad for the opportunity to sample all of it, I’m also glad that Navona has chosen to provide Elizabeth Vercoe a retrospective showcase because I find her music the most satisfying of all.
Vercoe (b. 1941) also shows a willingness to adapt different musical styles and elements to her basic idiom: the essential atonality of her music is leavened with some well-chosen pop influences where appropriate to the subject matter at hand. That includes Kleemation, a work based on drawings by Swiss modernist painter Paul Klee. Klee’s sometimes whimsical, sometimes troubling art turns for its inspiration to the uninhibited world of the child artist. The five drawings behind Vercoe’s piece are helpfully reproduced in the notes to this recording. They are, indeed, both whimsical and a bit unsettling, and Vercoe captures both these essences in her music. The first piece, “Goodbye to You,” “incorporates the title into the rhythm of the music. . .,” while the second, “Please!” “draws on the vernacular tradition of swing music. . . .” So far, the music is unintimidating and attractively casual, matching the drawings. The more ominous side of Klee’s art is explored in the other pieces, especially “Afraid of the Beach,” with its dark swirls of sound from the keyboard, the anxious flutter-tonguing on the flute. Finally, there is “More Will Be Marching Soon” (reproduced on the album cover), a typically simple but frightening portrait of the soldier as mere cog in the modern fighting machine. Vercoe subtly worked the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” into her piece; it haunts the fabric of the score, flitting by in shards and pieces, a ghostly remnant of the original.
The most successful work on the program—at least my favorite—is Irreveries from Sappho, which brings pop musical-influences to bear on three of Sappho’s brief lyrics: “Adromeda Rag,” “Older Woman Blues,” and “Boogie for Leda.” Vercoe may take a page out of William Bolcom’s playbook, but the results are witty, sly, very enjoyable. As Vercoe herself writes, “Sappho’s poetry. . .seems remarkably up-to-date. Its wit calls for whatever musical sleight of hand the composer might muster. . . .”
Herstory, based on lyrics by Japanese female poets from the eighth to the twelfth century, also explores the themes of love and longing typical of Sappho, but in place of wit there is more of despair, reflected in Vercoe’s somewhat histrionic approach to the poetry. In some cases, given the quiet intimacy of the verse, Vercoe’s treatment is pretty much over the top. The writing for the accompanying instruments, however, is interesting— mysterious, often spookily evocative. Even so, I don’t find this music as successful as the shorter Irreveries.
The piano Fantasy, on the other hand, exploits the resources of the piano in clever and musically satisfying ways. Vercoe not only unlocks the colors of the keyboard but asks the pianist to get inside the instrument and produce haunting, slithery sounds on the strings—not a new idea, of course, but handled with an ear well attuned to balance and variety.
There’s more poetic reference in To Music, the titles of whose four short sections are taken from Russian poet Anna Akhmatova’s work. Like the Fantasy, it successfully showcases the colors and techniques available to the modern practitioner of her instrument, in this case the flute.
I count Despite our differences #1 among my least favorite works on the program, but one problem is the hissy live recording made during the work’s 1985 premier at Boston University. It’s distant, thoroughly lacking in presence, and that seems to infect the music, which I find more than a bit dry and pedantic.
However, the other works on the program receive good recordings in a variety of venues and in performances that almost certainly have the imprimatur of the composer herself. On balance, this is a fine and varied showcase for Vercoe’s considerable gifts.
Peter H. Bloom's testimonial to Elizabeth Vercoe's composition Kleemation appeared on Amazon.com, where Noteworthy Sheet Music's publication of the piece can be purchased as a professionally-printed hard copy edition. Mr. Bloom's 5-star testimonial is re-printed here for the convenience of our visitors.
Thrilling and rewarding for performers and (diverse) audiences alike.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and rewarding for performers and (diverse) audiences alike., January 19, 2014
By P. H. Bloom "PHB"
This review is from: Kleemation for Flute and Piano, by Elizabeth Vercoe (Paperback)
Having performed Kleemation dozens of times and throughout the world (from urban New York to rural South Dakota, from Boston to Bankok, to Chaing Mai, to Aukland, to Dunedin, to Wellington to Canberra) and having recorded it, I believe that this work of Elizabeth Vercoe is among the most vibrant, compelling, accessible, and moving pieces for flute and piano in all the literature. It is demanding for both performers while approachable by the advanced conservatory student. It challenges audiences without hostility. The work is inspired by the darkly mysterious drawings of Paul Klee - subject matter that always seems to grab the attention of the audience. Each movement of Kleemation is beautifully crafted and efficient; yet the range of musical language is broad and diverse. The edition is beautifully typeset with clarity, good page turns, excellent cues, and immaculate editing. Kleemation could be, in our repertoire, the Copland Duo or Poulenc Sonata or Chant de Linos of the 21st Century.