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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik, III

Published in 1787, this is a piece composed for 2 violins, viola, cello; movement III is a minuet/trio.

The minuet (or "menuetto") is in the key of G and is composed of two eight-bar phrases which are both repeated. Each phrase ends in a perfect authentic cadence, and the last four measures of each phrase are identical excepting the staccato markings in the fifth and sixth measures of the second phrase. The first eight measures are more rhythmically based on the quarter note with some eighth notes and two trills (both violins participate). The second eight measures begin with the two violins at octaves from each other on a run of eighth notes punctuated only by three simultaneous quarter notes on the part of the viola and cello until measure 12 where the viola joins in the eighth notes and a crescendo leads back to the repitition of material and cadence. The first eight measures are in forte, the second half of the second eight measure phrase is in piano--the violins always commencing ahead of the viola and cello--and then returns to forte with the return of the material from the first phrase. The texture is relatively integrated, but the melody is held jointly (in octaves-register) by the two violins.

The trio section is in D, the dominant key, and is also made of two repeating sections, though the first is eight measures in duration while the other is twelve. The first eight measures end in another perfect authentic cadence, while the first four measures of the second section arrive at a half cadence that leads directly--punctuated by a decrescendo to the original piano dynamic at the start of the trio--into another eight measures of almost the same material in the first section of the trio excepting an additional g natural in measure 28 and an additional a sharp in measure 29. These last eight measures, naturally also end in a perfect authentic cadence with a note to return to the minuet section ("menuetto da capo"). Unlike in the minuet, the first violin takes the melody while the second violin and viola act jointly together in almost continuous eighth notes, filling in the harmonic layers and adding movement to the melody. The cello again continues its role as the bass. In fact, it is even less active in the trio and often consists of merely a staccato octave leap on the first two beats (in quarter notes) and then nothing else. This however serves to punctuate the continuous flow of the upper voices. Besides also containing many eighth notes, the first violin has a small rhythmic motive of a dotted quarter and three eighths. The first eight measures are at piano dynamics and there is an abrupt change to forte after the PAC in measure 24, and then returns in measure 29 to piano.

The meter stays in 3/4 throughout both sections, and the registers of the instruments remain relatively stable. All instruments continue througout the entire movement, with the cello functioning as a base, the two violins with the bulk of the melody, and the viola sometimes following the role of the cello and sometimes the role of the second violin. Therefore, the timbre and density are constant. The tempo is allegretto and remains constant as well.

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