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Joseph Lange (1751-1831), Unfinished portrait of
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(Salzburg, Mozarteum)

Variaciones y tema (Sobre el Tema con variaciones «Ah!, vous dirai-je, maman», de W. A. Mozart) / Variations and Theme (On the Theme with variations «Ah!, vous dirai-je, maman», by W. A. Mozart)

For two Pianos

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Faced with the imminence, in 1991, of the bicentenary of the death of W. A. Mozart -a composer for whom I feel, not just admiration, but authentic veneration-, at the end of 1990 I began the composition of a series of short pieces for violin and piano for the which served as a starting point one of the best-known works he composed for the keyboard: the variations on the lied «Ah!, vous dirai-je, maman», emblematic in what they represent as a wise conjugation of the most extreme simplicity -that of the theme itself- with the most inspired constructive wisdom. In them, Mozart elaborates, within the conventional form of "theme with variations", a total of twelve small pieces derived from a popular theme, exposed at the beginning of the work.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Variations on «Ah, vous dirai-je, maman!»
Steven Lubin, fortepiano

For my Variations and Theme I set out to recreate Mozart's work without compromising my freedom of expression nor my own language, with the sole concession of reproducing the theme (accompanied by some elements, intertwined, of Mozart's Variations) as well as the original coda. But instead of starting my work with another's theme, as is usual, it makes its appearance at the end of it, directly linked to the Mozartian coda. All this is preceded by twelve short independent pieces, which are a free recreation of Mozart's original twelve variations; but, instead of varying the surface of those respecting their structure (as would have been mandatory in some classical variations), I preferred to take the most representative of each of the variations (we should therefore speak of their "character", and not of its structure, when defining what it is that has been varied), to compose from it a small autonomous piece based on a free development of the element in question (a scale, an arpeggio, a dynamic contrast, a dramatic aspect, a perpetual movement...). Each of the movements of my Variations and Theme bears as a title, by way of reference, the term Variation followed by a number that indicates where, in Mozart's work, the element that will be developed during it comes from, since, for reasons of musical strategy, the order followed by me is not the same as that established by Mozart: thus, the seventh piece of my work is entitled Variation I, and in it the characteristic or most outstanding feature of the first Mozartian variation (specifically, the perpetual movement of sixteenth notes) is elaborated.

First page of the manuscript of the Variations on
"Ah, vous dirai-je, maman!"
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Each original variation was thus recreated in a double way. Once the total of twenty-four independent pieces had been obtained, I separated those that contained greater tradition from those that implied greater modernity, thus forming two independent series that closed in the same way, with Mozart's original theme and coda.
This is, thus, the structure of the first series of the Variations and Theme:

1. Variation XII. Mosso
2. Variation XI. Adagio e sempre rubato
3. V Variation VI. Scherzando
4. Variation III. Mosso e semplice
5. Variation IV. Adagio
6. Variation V. Allegro
7. Variation I. Prestissimo
8. Variation VIII (Minore). Andante
9. Variation II. Presto
10. Variation IX. Il più presto possibile
11. Variation X. Non troppo mosso e sempre rubato
12. Variation VII. Prestissimo
13. Theme. Andante

The first series of these Variations and Theme was premiered in March 1993 by its dedicatee, Víctor Martín, accompanied by Miguel Zanetti, at the National Music Auditorium in Madrid, while the second series was premiered in August 1991 by Agustín León Ara and José Tordesillas within the concerts of that year of the International Course of "Music in Compostela", of which the piece was commissioned and to which it is dedicated.
Lastly, based on the first series, I made a transcription for two pianos in the fall of 2008, commissioned, dedicated and premiered by the Scarbó Piano Duo in October 2010, in the auditorium of the Casa de Cultura of Tres Cantos (Madrid).

Laura Sánchez and Elena Hammel (Duo Scarbó)

Program of the premiere of the version for two pianos
of the first series of Variations and Theme

First page of the Variations and Theme (1st series), for two pianos


Premiere recording: Duo Scarbó (Laura Sánchez and Elena Hammel, pianos)

I. Variation XII. Mosso.
II. Variation XI. Adagio e sempre rubato.
III. Variation VI. Scherzando.
IV. Variation III. Mosso e semplice.
V. Variation IV. Adagio.
VI. Variation V. Allegro.
VII. Variation I. Prestissimo.
VIII. Variation VIII (Minore). Andante.
IX. Variation II. Presto.
X. Variation IX. Il più presto possibile.
XI. Variation X. Non troppo mosso e sempre rubato.
XII. Variation VII. Prestissimo. / XIII. Tema. Andante.


Festival COMA'2022 of the Madrid Composers Association
Concert-Tribute to José Luis Turina in his 70th anniversary
Laura Sánchez and Cristina Lucio-Villegas (Duo Scarbó)
Manuel de Falla Hall of the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Madrid, November 4, 2022


The Scarbó Duo pays tribute to José Luis Turina
By Tomás Marco
(Review published in Scherzo magazine. Madrid, November 6, 2022)

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(Score without watermarks available at www.asesores-musicales.com )