Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to play Mozart's Sonata K 457

Learn how to tackle the most difficult passage of Sonata K457

In this video, Robert explains how to approach Sonata K 457 by Mozart, in particular the fast-note passage in the second movement.

Released on March 2, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to and I'm Robert Estrin with a viewer question about Mozart's Sonata K457 in C Minor. In the second movement, there is a section that has a bunch of very fast notes. There are 64th notes that go to 128th notes. And he's wondering, "How do you fit these in?"

Well, the answer is that you don't really need to play this mathematically, as such. Yes, everything has to come out right, but there's a certain level of freedom. This is the section that has the very fast notes.

A little secret you can do to make it so much easier to play and make it sound better is to start the run a little bit early, before it actually is written to start. Is this going to be a bad thing, not faithful to the score? Well, you've got to understand. Mozart was a great improviser, as so many of the composers from the past were. And they did their best to write down the music accurately, as to what they wanted. But when you have a cadenza-like passage, there's only so much you can do to get it written down in a way that it makes sense visually, as to what you're playing.

So watch how you could actually make this sound more fluid and be able to play it more easily, if you don't have a rapid technique and can't maybe play quite up to speed. Because you're better off not slowing down your tempo, but fitting in the notes. Watch how I'll start the run a little bit early to accommodate all these notes.

Would Mozart mind? I don't think so. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, given your technique, you're always better off playing something that sounds good that's musical. For example, trills, which I've discussed before, and there's a video you can reference for that, you want to play the number of notes you can execute faithfully. And don't feel compelled to play a larger number of notes or to have to start on the upper note necessarily for authenticity of a period style, when maybe you can negotiate the trill better, starting on the main note of the trill, instead of the auxiliary, the note above the trill.

Ultimately you must make music, and that is the bottom line. Find a way to fit in all these notes. Obviously, when you have cadenza passage in Liszt and Chopin, it's all about finding a way to make it work musically. It's no different with Mozart.

Thanks for the great questions, and look for more here on and Robert Estrin, until next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Ioannis Raftopoulos * VSM MEMBER * on March 2, 2016 @2:57 pm PST
thank you so much Robert for the very good tip! I was stuck at this measurement for a long time, trying my best to approach it mathematically without success! after all, music is an art and some improvising is allowed!
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