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Joseph Lange (1751-1831), Retrato inacabado de
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(Salzburgo, Mozarteum)

Variaciones y tema (2ª serie)(Sobre el Tema con variaciones «Ah!, vous dirai-je, maman», de W. A. Mozart) / Variations and Theme (2nd series) (On the Theme with variations «Ah!, vous dirai-je, maman», by W. A. Mozart)

For Violin and Piano

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When I received from "Música en Compostela" the commission to compose a chamber work, I couldn't help but remember that precisely in an edition of that same course (that of 1978, specifically) my "debut" as a composer took place. Being a Composition pupil of Carmelo Bernaola, during one of the final concerts my work Movimiento, for violin and piano, composed during that course, was performed by the violinist Laura Klugherz and the pianist Suzanne Sieber. Thirteen years after that, I am pleased to dedicate these Variations and Theme to such fruitful and exemplary courses, for which, influenced by the memory of that first premiere, I return to the violin-piano ensemble.
On the other hand, I have neither been able nor wanted to evade the fact that during 1991, the year this work was composed, the bicentenary of the death of W. A. Mozart, a composer for whom I not only feel admiration, nut authentic veneration, is being celebrated worldwide. These Variations and Theme do not want to be anything other than my most heartfelt tribute to the memory of his genius, through a series of pieces for which one of the best-known works he composed for the keyboard: Variations on the song «Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman!». In them, Mozart elaborates, within a conventional form of "theme with variations", a total of twelve small pieces derived from a popular theme, which is exposed at the beginning of the piece. Each one of the variations, as usual, is based on the superficial modification of the deep structure provided by the melodic or harmonic aspects of the theme, proposing different coatings for this last structure: continuous movement of sixteenth notes in the right hand, or triplets in the left hand, arpeggios, scales... without missing the classic minore, as well as an adagio already very close to the end. The last of the variations, of a brilliant character, has an equally common coda added.

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

These Variations and Theme constitute the second series of a cycle that is completed with a first one, composed in parallel and based on the same idea. The first series was written at the request of the violinist Víctor Martín, to whom it is dedicated. For reasons that I could not account for without falling into inevitable subjectivism (and which, therefore, are beside the point), the first series is written within aesthetic postulates that are much more conventional and traditional than the second one, the latter being an attempt to carry out the initial idea through paths less trodden than those of that one. Which does not mean, at this point in the 20th century, neither better nor worse: simply different.
This is, thus, the structure of the second series of the Variations and Theme:

1. Variation VII. Deciso
2. Variation VI. Presto
3. Variation XI. Molto adagio
4. Variation XII. Mosso
5. Variation I. Molto allegro
6. Variation IV. Molto liberamente, quasi cadenza
7. Variation V. A tempo giusto
8. Variation II. Prestissimo
9. Variation VIII. Adagio semplice
10. Variation X. Moderato
11. Variation IX. Prestissimo
12. Variation III. Allegro
13. Theme. Andante

The second series of Variations and Theme was premiered in August 1991 by Agustín León Ara and José Tordesillas as part of the final concerts of the Music course in Compostela, in the same place (the Chapel of the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos) where it was premiered Movimiento thirteen years earlier.

Agustín León Ara and José Tordesillas (ca. 1990)

Cover of the edition of the works commissioned by
"Música en Compostela" in 1991


Recording of the premiere (low quality): Agustín León Ara (violin) and José Tordesillas (piano), August 1991

I. Variation VII. Deciso.
II. Variation VI. Presto.
III. Variation XI. Molto adagio.
IV. Variation XII. Mosso.
V. Variation I. Molto allegro.
VI. Variation IV. Molto liberamente, quasi cadenza.
VII. Variation V. A tempo giusto.
VIII. Variation II. Prestissimo.
IX. Variation VIII. Adagio semplice.
X. Variation X. Moderato.
XI. Variation IX. Prestissimo.
XII. Variation III. Allegro.
XIII. Theme. Andante.

First page of the Variations and Theme (2nd series)

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