Mozart 3 2nd mvmt trills

Edited: June 7, 2019, 6:53 PM · Any opinions on the trills in Mozart 3, 2nd movement, m. 9 and m. 32? According to the notes in the Barenreiter edition, they have been traditionally performed incorrectly as whole step trills and should both be half step trills. My son's teacher likes one as a half step and the other as a whole step. I feel like I could make an argument either way based on different factors (performance practice and harmonically). Opinions or thoughts?

Replies (10)

Edited: June 8, 2019, 5:24 AM · Hi Susan. My feeling is that the passage that starts in measure 9 is in A major, hence the G sharp, and the passage that starts in measure 32 is in D major, hence the C sharp. But I know nothing about harmony so this reply is just to draw attention to your question. Scott Cole may answer if he has time.
June 8, 2019, 5:44 AM · Just curious, what is the reasoning given by that Barenreiter editor?
June 8, 2019, 6:54 AM · In my edition, which was edited by my teacher, Rene Benedetti, the measure 9 trill is marked specifically as G sharp, and the measure 32 trill is not marked, indicating C sharp. Generally, I assume that unless the trill is marked, it should reflect the key signature, and my version adheres to that. However, as Jean stated, it would be interesting to know how the Barenreiter editor arrived at his conclusion.
June 8, 2019, 8:28 AM · Your ears should be able to inform you - especially depending on what precedes and what follows.
June 8, 2019, 9:12 AM · Scott Cole has nothing BUT time. And, as we know, opinions.

So here goes: It's not exactly clear-cut, and I understand why some would opt for a G# in bar 9.Some may argue by analogy: "here's what's going on in bar 32, and they seem to be the same melody, so we should play the same intervals.

There are two competing harmonic forces here. Yes, the solo melody quickly seems to go to A-major in the next bar. However, one could argue it hasn't happened YET. The flutes have G-naturals just before the violin enters. Do we go by what just happened, or what is just about to happen? There are no G's in that bar to guide us.

Likewise, bar 32 is preceded by C-naturals in the flutes, but followed by C#s in the following bar. And again, no C's to guide us.

Mozart isn't known for sloppiness/score mistakes, so I'm not convinced he just forgot the G# in bar 9. I doubt he would have jumped that fast into the dominant harmony. Even a one-bar transition from tonic to dominant harmony seems more convincing here at the violin's presentation of the main theme.

When all else fails, one may have to rely on one's ear, feelings, or a trusted teacher or editor. But before we do that, we should reason out what's happening in the full score, using our knowledge of basic harmony and history. I was urged by some teachers to acquire pocket scores to my repertoire. Failing that, the piano reduction is the next best thing. I see far too many students who don't bother to get either, and are willing to settle for a free download, mistakes and all.

June 8, 2019, 11:51 AM · thanks Scott!
June 8, 2019, 2:31 PM · I always admire your reasoning, Scott. Thanks as well.
June 8, 2019, 3:12 PM · All it says in the Barenreiter is this, "Contrary to tradition, half-step trills are called for in the 2nd movement, mm. 9 and 32 (the unnecessary sharp in m. 33 should be interpreted as another indication of this.)" That is in the editor's notes to the edited part. There is nothing in the urtext or piano score about it.

My son is an ardent score studier and feels strongly about playing G natural in m. 9 for the same reason as Scott -- we haven't changed keys yet. It's m. 32 that none of us can decide on. His teacher likes C#. I feel like it is not a true modulation to G major; it feels more like we are quickly passing through V/IV-IV before going right back to D major, which means C# makes sense. But the G major is just long enough that one could argue the opposite.

We've found performances from very legitimate performers doing both.

June 8, 2019, 4:43 PM · I think that without seeing the autograph manuscript (and who knows if it still exists; I cannot find it on IMSLP and the urtext there is silent), an argument can be made for either choice in both measures. As Barenreiter acknowledges, its suggestion is contrary to tradition. However, I would say that your son can do whatever works best for him. Enjoy the wonderful piece!
June 9, 2019, 12:12 PM · Just looked at the urtext again. The trill in measure 9 appears to be where the key change occurs. You go from D major chords to A major chords at that point. With regard to measure 32, you have been in G major, and it appears that at the point of the trill, you are getting back into D. So, I would go with the sharps for the trill notes. However, I can see other possibilities people have described.

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