Surprisingly for a piece in 4/4 time, this movement is characterised above all by its energetic abundance of racing triplets, which come with all manner of different bowings (spiccato, legato and mixed). We can almost imagine Mozart’s smile as he literally plays around with these different articulations: compare for example bars 39, 114 and 117. In this whirlwind of activity the cello has no more more than two occasional bars of rest and there are absolutely no fermatas. The only note changes here are the revoicing of the cadential chords in bars 36, 51, 97-98 and 125. Mozart left no dynamic markings.
Normally in the Mozart Violin Sonatas transcriptions for cello, there are many high-register passages which need to be to be transposed down an additional octave for the “Easier Version”. Here this is not the case: only 13 of the first movement’s 125 bars use the Intermediate or Thumb regions. Most of the difficulties of this movement come in fact from the coordination challenges associated with the fast triplets, especially in those passages in which slurred and spiccato bowings are mixed. This is not only great music, it is also a good study!
In contrast to these racing triplets, the slow movement is an extensive series of variations: powerful, lyrical, expressive and mostly in the relative minor key. Apart from in the Siciliana variation, only 3 dynamic indications are given for all the rest of this movement. The only note changes involve the revoicing of a doublestop in bar four of both Variation II and the Siciliana.
And to calm us all down after the excitement and intensity of the previous two movements, the last movement is a short and graceful minuet that sounds simple but lies is in a quite high register much of the time. In fact, more than 2/3 of the cello’s interventions are in the Intermediate or Thumb Regions and for this reason almost 75% of the cello’s music in this movement has needed to be transposed down an additional octave to keep it in the Neck Region for the “Easier Version”. As occurs in some other high register passages of his violin sonatas (Trio K304), the piano doubles the string melody much of the time. It appears that Mozart didn’t trust the violinist’s intonation on the E string …..
In his Violin Sonatas, Mozart often changes the violin’s octave (register) with the same ease as if he were writing for piano. On the piano, playing the same music in different octaves doesn’t change the difficulty level at all. On a string instrument however, once we get above the Neck Region, the difficulty level goes up exponentially. Therefore, the “Easier Versions” of these sonatas, with their transpositions down by two octaves of the higher passages, not only are infinitely easier to play, but also they can easily sound just as good (if not better) than the “correct” one octave transposition that are used almost always in the “Concert Versions” (Edited and Clean).