Five contredanse, K. 609

The contradance was a court and bourgeois pair dance much loved in the 18th century. It is originally English where it was a folk leaping dance. It is nearly always in 2/4 time, with a fast tempo, commencing on an upbeat. Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven all frequently employed contradance themes and rhythms in the final movements of symphonies and sonatas. Mozart's K. 609 series of contradances begins with a self-quotation: the extract from Figaro which Mozart also quotes in the table music of Don Giovanni. This would appear to be a kind of non too subtle self promotion since a revival of Figaro was being mounted in Vienna in February that year. The orchestra for this dance series comprises of a single flute besides the strings, while Mozart included a part for a drum in the third and fourth pieces. The fourth dance in C major is unusually cast in 3/8 time. Interestingly the internal dimensions of the first eight bars are indeed asymmetrical. Between repetitions of the principal section, there are three “Alternativo” sections. The closing dance of the set comprises of five sets of eight bars. Tonal variety is ensured by the third section being dominant, while the fourth is expounded in the relative minor.