Mozart's piano sonatas form a richly diverse and significant part of his instrumental output, and span much of his mature composing career, thereby representing a microcosm of the composer's changing style. Part I examines the contexts in which the sonatas were composed and performed, and reviews likely sources of influence. Part II concentrates on the genesis of the sonatas and the surviving autographs, which reveal important information about Mozart's compositional process. In Part III the music is studied from the standpoint of rhetoric - a discipline featured in numerous contemporary aesthetic and theoretical textbooks on music - and proceeds through an investigation of the nature of the musical ideas, followed by a discussion of formal design and finally a consideration of the style. The resulting picture affords a cross-section of Mozart's compositional strategies.
'Irving's book functions in part as a ready reference guide. As well as a rundown on the sources for each sonata, particularly noteworthy for its attention to the evidence provided by ink shadings for Mozart's manner of compsoing, there is some interesting prefatory material that considers possible stylistic models for the Mozart sonatas.' W. Dean Sutcliffe, Times Literary Supplement