1 FRANZ SCHUBERT the complete piano sonatas played on period instruments
2 FRANZ SCHUBERT A 364 the complete piano sonatas played on period instruments CD1 Sonata No. 1 in E major, D I. Allegro ma non troppo II. Andante III. Menuetto. Allegro vivace 4 11 Sonata No. 9 in B major, Op. posth. 147, D I. Allegro, ma non troppo II. Andante III. Scherzo. Allegretto IV. Allegro giusto 5 05 Sonata No. 2 in C major, D 279/346 8 I. Allegro moderato II. Andante III. Menuetto. Allegro vivace IV. Allegretto, D CD2 Sonata No. 5 in A flat major, D I. Allegro moderato II. Andante III. Allegro 6 10 Sonata No. 10 in C major, D 613/612 4 I. Moderato II. Adagio, D III. (Allegretto) 6 02 Sonata No. 7 in E flat major, Op. posth. 122, D I. Allegro moderato II. Andante molto III. Menuetto. Allegretto IV. Allegro moderato 6 54
3 3 CD3 Sonata No. 6 in E minor, D 566/506 1 I. Moderato II. Allegretto III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace IV. Rondo. Allegretto moto, Op. posth. 145/2, D Sonata No. 14 in C major, «Reliquie», D I. Moderato II. Andante III. Menuetto. Allegretto IV. Rondo. Allegro 9 00 CD4 Sonata No. 3 in E major, Fünf Klavierstücke, D I. Allegro moderato II. Scherzo. Allegro III. Adagio IV. Scherzo con Trio. Allegro V. Allegro patetico 4 47 Sonata No. 15 in A minor, Op. 42, D I. Moderato II. Andante, poco mosso III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace IV. Rondo. Allegro vivace 4 55 CD5 Sonata No. 8 in F sharp minor, D 571/604/570 1 I. Allegro moderato, D II. [D 604] III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace, D IV. Allegro D
4 4 Sonata No. 16 in D major, Op. 53, D I. Allegro II. Andante con moto III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace IV. Rondo. Allegro moderato 8 25 CD6 Sonata No. 4 in A minor, Op. posth. 164, D I. Allegro, ma non troppo II. Allegretto quasi Andantino III. Allegro vivace 4 54 Sonata No. 17 in G major, Op. 78, D I. Molto moderato e cantabile II. Andante III. Menuetto. Allegro vivace IV. Allegretto 8 50 CD7 Sonata No. 11 in F minor, D 625/505 1 I. Allegro II. Scherzo. Allegretto III. Adagio, opus posth. 145/I IV. Allegro 5 37 Sonata No. 18 in C minor, D I. Allegro II. Adagio III. Menuetto. Allegro IV. Allegro 9 37 CD8 Sonata No. 13 in A minor, Op. posth. 143, D I. Allegro giusto II. Andante III. Allegro vivace 5 17
5 Sonata No. 19 in A major, D I. Allegro II. Andantino III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace - Trio. Un poco più lento IV. Rondo. Allegretto CD9 Sonata No. 12 in A major, Op. posth. 120, D I. Allegro moderato II. Andante III. Allegro 7 53 Sonata No. 20 in B flat major, D I. Molto moderato II. Andante sostenuto III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace con delicatezza IV. Allegro, ma non troppo PAUL BADURA-SKODA Fortepianos (from the artist s collection) 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997 / 2013 Outhere Music France. Sound engineer: Michel Bernstein and Charlotte Gilart de Keranflec h Digital editing: Charlotte Gilart de Keranflec h, assisted by Joséphine Deschamps (Sonatas nn. 3, 16, 18) and Régis Touray (Sonatas nn. 5, 6, 7, 10, 14) Produced by: Michel Bernstein.
6 The Recordings 6 CD Sonata Deutsch Fortepiano Vienna Date 1 No q Palais Clam-Gallas 15 April No /346 w Palais Clam-Gallas 16 April No q Baumgartner Casino 3-4 January No r Palais Clam-Gallas 21 December No r Palais Clam-Gallas 28 January No /506 t Palais Clam-Gallas 14 April No r Palais Clam-Gallas January No /604/570 q Baumgartner Casino 4-5 January No q Palais Clam-Gallas 17 April No /612 r Palais Clam-Gallas 29 January No /505 t Zögernitz Casino 3 May No r Zögernitz Casino 5 May No e Zögernitz Casino January No t Palais Clam-Gallas December No e Baumgartner Casino 2-4 January No e Baumgartner Casino 5-6 January No r Palais Clam-Gallas 22 December No t Zögernitz Casino 2 May No e Zögernitz Casino January No r Zögernitz Casino 4-5 May 1992
7 7 THE instruments q Donath Schöfftos Vienna, c Compass: F - f4
8 8 w Georg Hasska Vienna, c Compass: F - f4 e Conrad Graf Vienna, c Compass: C - f4
9 9 r Conrad Graf Vienna, c Compass: C - f4 t J.M. Schweighofer Vienna, c Compass: C - f4
10 Preface to the Piano Sonatas of Schubert Paul Badura Skoda More than a century was to elapse before the musical world began to recognize what an enormous treasure was hidden in the piano Sonatas of Schubert. The delay in their discovery is closely linked to their profundity, their novelty and their originality. The piano Sonatas of C. Maria von Weber, for example, were much more quickly appreciated by the public. However, despite the brilliant style and the partly Schubertian beauty found in the Sonata in A-flat major these works have today fallen into almost total oblivion. The same thing has happened to the works of Hummel which are not without importance in this area, while their author was almost as appreciated as Beethoven during his lifetime. Schubert surpassed these masters, and others too, in the substance, the elevation and the humanity of what he had to say and in his quest for structural perfection, for unity between form and content which, besides their differences in character, may not readily be compared on an artistic basis with Beethoven. We cannot easily avoid comparing Beethoven with Schubert: not only because they were contemporaries (Schubert died one year after Beethoven) but because both of them expressed in their piano Sonatas even more than in their Symphonies what were their most intimate thoughts and because they both left a collection of sonatas approximately the same size and importance. The Beethoven Sonatas were not an immediate success. Apart from the three or four most popular ones the others did not become part of the European musical heritage until about fifty years after his death, thanks largely to Hans von Bülow, who called these Sonatas the New Testament of pianists (their Old Testament being the Well-tempered Clavier of Bach). But even the greatest musicians (Chopin for example) came up against their roughness, indeed occasionally a banality from which even a Beethoven was not safe. Ravel often spoke in a pejorative manner of the Great deaf one and would not hear talk of a monument to Beethoven before one had been erected for Mozart. No doubt he would have more readily accepted Schubert, if only because sound in Schubert was an elemental structure and because his pianistic style often conveys an almost prophetic sense of timbral beauty. This delay in the discovery of Schubert s Sonatas such as had not been the case with his Lieder may partly be explained by one particular phenomenon, that of the history of their publication and of their revelation to the public at large. During Schubert s lifetime only three of his twenty So-natas (or twenty-two according to the way they are counted) were printed: Opus 42, 53 and 78. All three of them, if must be said, were masterpieces of imposing proportions, whose genius contemporaries had to some extent already recognized (see the contemporary criticism quoted in my detailed commentary on Sonata in A flat major Opus 42, D 845). It was only after the death of Schubert that the other Sonatas appeared, sometimes at long intervals and for the last Sonatas not until 1897 (!) in the Supplement to the Complete Edition, which remained moreover almost inaccessible. In the pe- 10
11 11 English Français Deutsch Italiano riod when Liszt was dazzling his audiences, when the quarrel between Wagner and Brahms was the subject of conversation, when Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Franck, the young Debussy and the young Richard Strauss were becoming the targets for discussion, is it hardly surprising that the discovery of Schubert s Sonatas (mostly works of his youth) should have evoked little interest and even less support? In this respect Beethoven s fate was more enviable: contemporary publishers grabbed his piano works the last three Sonatas owe their existence to a commission from Adolf Schlesinger and already during his lifetime we find pirated editions. But Schubert did not have the luck of Beethoven or later Chopin: the publisher Schott sent back his Impromptus Opus 145, D 935, noting that they were too difficult for his clientele to understand and play; and he asked him if he didn t have something more digestible to offer (no doubt he meant waltzes or marches). This attitude of rejection on the part of publishers might explain the fact that some of Schubert s Sonatas remain unfinished. For he had no source of revenue other than that which came from the sale of his compositions. It is interesting to note, in this regard, that for two of these Sonatas we have two surviving versions, one partly incomplete and another extremely developed (D 575, opus post. 147 and D 567, opus post. 122/D 568). A publisher had probably enlighted his hopes for publication, which was not however to be finally realised until after his death. When eventually a collection of eleven Sonatas appeared, which still represents for many music lovers today the complete Sonatas of Schubert, people began to make comparisons with those of Beethoven which had long been established in musical circles. It is amazing to see to what extent Schubert s Sonatas were torn to shreds even by specialists, biographers and critics. Rarely has so much stupidity been written about music as in the commentaries produced around The majority of this criticism revolved around the idea that Schubert was no Beethoven. This is just about as legitimate as calling Leonardo da Vinci a secondrater because he was not Michelangelo! Today we see things completely differently: the great achievement of Schubert was his very discovery that in the realm of the piano sonata he could write without depending on Beethoven (nor indeed on Mozart, Hummel or Weber), with absolutely new potential and a new prophetic vision which is often more developed than Beethoven s: we find this already in the Sonata in a minor D 537 with its successions of mediant key relationships and thematic blocks in the style of Bruckner, while the first and third movements of the Sonata in a minor D 784 (opus 143) anticipates the piano writing of Liszt (with amongst other things the demented octaves at the end) while the second movement begins with a harmonic progression typical of Brahms. We even find sequences of scales a second apart, as in Debussy, and sonorities which anticipate those 1 To quote a typical example, an extract from a criticism by Hubert Parry, written in London: Schubert s movements are in varying degrees diffuse in form, slip-shod in craftsmanship and unequal in content. He had the least possible for abstract design, balance and order.
12 12 of Chopin. Schubert s piano writing has a staggering variety and richness. It is generally based on a conception in parts, that is to say one which might emanate from an imaginary string quartet. This conception, which implies a pianistic arrangement, must of course be adapted through compromise to the possibilities of the pianist s two hands. This was also the case with Beethoven as well as with Schubert and often involved problems with the middle parts. But while critics close their eyes benevolently to the little blunders of Beethoven, they examine them with a fine toothed comb in the case of Schubert who was accused of being not as good a pianist as Beethoven which must indeed be acknowledged. But what does this have to do with the composition? We know that one of the worst pianists among all the great composers was Maurice Ravel and nobody has ever reproached him for writing badly for the piano. But Maurice E. Brown, who has done so much for Schubert, wrote shortly before his death that we find here and there in Schubert s piano sonatas a number of failures (Musical Times, London October 1985). It is true that any pianist will have some difficulty in finding a sense of the sonority in certain accompaniment figures like the Alberti basses or broken chords in close position in the first and last movements of the final Sonata in B flat major. But any attempt to improve them, following the model of Chopin, in order to give them a more beautiful sound, would be like altering in an illegitimate way the whole conception. No, there is nothing to arrange nor anything to deplore. Schubert, who had already experimented for a long time with wide positions (for example in D 571 and D 625) seems to be returning very consciously here to an extreme simplicity, just as Beethoven did in his late Bagatelles. This is what we might call the Mozart principle and on the forte pianos of the period such failures were often of great beauty. The comparison with Beethoven might lead today to conclusions that are quite different to those 100 years ago, at a time when nearly half of Schubert s Sonatas were still unknown and when no-body was really up to playing them. A proof of the inability of pianists to break into this repertory is to be seen in the fact that Schubert s piano Sonatas hardly ever figure in concert programmes in the years around 1900 and that they were practically absent as well from the teaching programmes of the conservatoires (which remains the case in Italy and Spain). People simply were not interested in Schubert. Schubert died at the age of 31. Any comparison with Beethoven is valid only if we first ask the question: where was Beethoven at the age of 31 in his Sonatas for piano? He had already written a good number of them, it is true, including a few masterpieces. But if we review the whole production of Schubert s Sonatas we find more works and more important works than we do during the first 31 years of Beethoven s life. The finale of Beethoven s Sonata in G major opus 31/I and that of Schubert s Sonata in A major D 959 offer a good point of comparison. Beethoven composed this Sonata for the publisher Nägeli in 1801/2; it took him a few months more than Schubert took to write, without commission, his
13 13 English Français Deutsch Italiano three last Sonatas. Schubert s finale is so close to Beethoven s in its external form that we might suppose that it represents one of the rare examples of direct Beethovenian influence, if only in the external form. What the two finales have in common is a bright, cantabile first subject, immediately repeated in the low register while the right hand adds decorative triplets above. But apart from this the differences are striking: Schubert s theme is richer both in harmony and melody. Its repetition happens not in the bass, but in the tenor and it is conceived in three parts not in two, the triplet figures being not systematic but merely delicate contrapuntal structures. The two Sonatas then offer a varied repeat of the exposition and a development which presents minor key harmonies. This minor mode shadow, merely fleeting in Beethoven, gives way in Schubert to an extended progression emerging in a tragic C sharp minor. What we might call the dramatic disproportion of this development since it almost explodes the framework suggested by the spring-like nature of the main theme plays an important role in the Sonata as a whole (which is about twice as long as Beethoven s opus 31/I); this involves a reaction to the apocalyptic crisis of C sharp minor in the second movement whose repercussions are felt in the following movements (see my commentary to D 959). This psychological conception of composition is found again in all the great composers: in the Hammerklavier Sonata the catastrophe in B minor of the first movement is echoed right through to the fugal finale; on the other hand the serenity underlying the Sonata in G major opus 31/I would make this kind of outburst quite incongruous. 2 We rediscover the same kind of differences in the last part of the respective finales of Beethoven and Schubert, despite the same hesitation in their fragmentary themes which are interrupted with rests: this hesitation in Beethoven s case seems to correspond with a serene attitude of concentration before the joyous outburst of the final Prestissimo; in Schubert s case it has rather a metaphysical quality, namely that of a foreboding of death; it literally runs out of breath, and the attempt to continue by force in other keys fails. The explosion of the presto at last brings deliverance, not without a renewed and tragic presence of the minor key; while at the very end the quotation of the Sonata s opening motive arrives, radiating like a sign of redemption. But Beethoven did not die in 1801; he lived on for another 26 years and wrote his greatest piano Sonatas only late in his life. Schubert did not have the opportunity of experiencing this evolution. We can only really make a comparison with what he actually composed. The incredible density and profundity of Beethoven s last Sonatas, the splendour of their counterpoint, their new formal principles were all conquests that Schubert had not the time to make. Should we nevertheless say that in his swan song, those last Sonatas which should have belonged to his middle period, he is inferior to Beethoven? One cannot help comparing the triptych of 1828 written when Schubert was 31 years old with what Beethoven wrote at 2 See Paul Badura-Skoda and Jörg Demus, Beethovens 32 Klaviersonaten, Brockhaus, Wiesbaden, 1970.
14 14 the age of 50 or 52, at the height of his creativity: Schubert s last Sonatas are not eclipsed by Beethoven s, even if we can hardly expect of them an equal subtlety nor that sovereign manner of playing around with form: for their musical substance is so profound that we can only, here again, be silent, filled with veneration before perfect the accomplishment. Schubert speaks directly to the heart: the great grief of the slow movements in the last Sonatas only finds its equivalent in Beethoven s String Quartet opus 131, but the serene happiness of the final farewell is the same with both these great composers: Muß es sein? Es muß sein! [Must it be? It must be!]. The difficulty of interpreting Schubert well has been much discussed. His Sonatas require a flexible touch, always lyrical but often orchestral, which a pianist who is only a virtuoso will not succeed in finding, since each piece of Schubert s requires an approach with great love and a natural attitude, without affectations, vis-à-vis music and life. (In his writing Alfred Brendel has said some excellent things on the subject of interpreting Schubert.) The aim is achieved when the effect which we produce upon our listeners is similar to that which Schubert produced on his. Ferdinand Hiller wrote: When I left for Vienna where I was going to meet Beethoven and to speak with him a few weeks before his death along with my teacher (Hummel) during the winter of 1827, we had still not heard anything about Schubert. A lady friend of Hummel s from his younger days, the former singer Buchweiser, who was then married to a wealthy Hungarian magnate, was mad about him, or rather about his songs, and it was at their house that he was presented to the famous Kapellmeister. We had several meals there in the company of that quiet young man and his favourite singer, the tenor, Vogl. The latter, already quite old but full of fire and life, had practically no voice left while Schubert, despite his honourable competence, was far from being a master of the keyboard. And yet, never have I since heard Schubert s songs as I did then! Vogl knew how to make us forget his lack of voice through the most ardent and most appropriate expression, while Schubert accompanied as one should accompany. The pieces followed one another we were insatiable the performers indefatigable. I still have before my eyes the vision of my fat old master sitting in a comfortable armchair behind the piano he spoke little, but the tears flowed down his cheeks. As for my own feelings I cannot describe them. It was an illumination. 3 Sonata no. 1 in E major, D 157 February 1815 First edition 1888 Old edition complete When he began work on his first piano sonata Schubert was eighteen years old; this was relatively late for a composer who had written more than 150 works, including some immortal masterpieces, and who in his Lieder had already created a very personal pianistic style, fluid and subtle in 3 Ferdinand Hiller: Erinnerung an Schubert in O.E. Deutsch, Franz Schubert. Die Erinner.
15 15 English Français Deutsch Italiano modulation. Another surprising fact is that it was at approximately the same age that Mozart, an even more precocious genius, composed the first of his sonatas for the piano which have survived, having already written a number of operas, symphonies and piano concertos. It seems as if the piano sonata form posed for composers particular problems, perhaps directly relating to the issue of dealing with a unique solo instrumental timbre. In Schubert s case there was also the imposing shadow of Beethoven who had already written some twenty-five sonatas which presented challenging standards. But the young Schubert rose to the challenge; from the start his sonatas were quite independent from any model, affirming his individual and recognizable style. The Sonata in E major, following only a week after an incomplete sketch (D 154) begins with an assertive ascending theme. There was of course nothing new in this: indeed this kind of theme was well known and even nicknamed the Mannheim rocket because it found such favour as an opening gambit by the composers of the Mannheim School. The same kind of theme had already been exploited by Mozart for example in his Sonata in C minor. But what immediately distinguishes Schubert from his contemporaries is the extent of the perfect chord motif which rises over more than three octaves. The idea might have seemed banal if it were not compensated by a genial sequel (which had not appeared in the first sketch) which contains the seed from which all the other themes of this movement grow; both the second subject and the final theme emerge from this motif although they are made distinctive in their more gentle character and different accompaniment based on regular figuration. The development section, also built on this motif, abounds in its energy. There follows a slow movement of touching sadness, the best movement written thus far by Schubert in its perfection of form and pianistic style. The quality of this Andante does not depend solely on the beauty of its melodic invention, but the impression it conveys to us of a profound and personal feeling: this is an aspect of Schubert s writing which had hitherto been found only in his best Lieder, but one that we find again in many of his later works. (It was this immediacy which made my revered teacher Martha Wiesenthal say: I am not a believer, but when I hear Schubert I feel that God must really have existed ). It was certainly not by chance that Schubert also succeeded here in creating a structural type that he was to elaborate again in his Sonatas D 840, 850, 894, 958: a rondo form in five sections ABA 1 CA 2 + coda. All these movements have one feature in common: in the final reprise of the rondo (A 2 ) the rhythm of the preceding episode (C) continues to be heard in the accompaniment. This interpenetration of the form and the content is Mozartian, classical in the best sense of the term. After the elegiac ending of this Andante, the joyful Scherzo (Schubert still calls it Menuetto in accordance with traditional usage) immediately returns to the mood of the opening. The Trio, in the mediant key of G major, curiously presages that of the Sonata D 850 which Schubert was to
16 16 write ten years later in Gastein: the same G major in both cases and the same melodic outline B-E-D over repeated chords. But in this youthful sonata the theme is quicker and an octave higher, like the voice of a boy compared to that of a man. The second section of the Trio, however, is altogether different in conception: instead of the invocation to the almighty that we find in the Gastein Sonata we have a journey through dreamlike, sensuous visions like a cello solo below high strings or wind instruments, a premonition of the Wagnerian world What a surprise! This Sonata is considered to be incomplete because it lacks a fourth movement in the home key of E Major. But what could really follow? Perhaps Schubert was himself aware that with its three movements this Sonata was well and truly finished, just like the Sonata in B flat major, D 557, which ends in the dominant key not to mention the famous Unfinished Symphony. Sonata no. 2 in C major, D 279/346 September 1815 First edition 1888 Old edition complete There is no reason to doubt the chronology of the Deutsch Catalogue, according to which Schubert composed more than 100 works during the seven months which followed the Sonata in E major a veritable explosion of creativity. As we might expect, this state of continuous creativity is reflected in the greater maturity of this second sonata which Schubert modestly called Sonata I. The greatest difference between the first two works involves the mastery and conception of the first movement. Here the themes have become more personal and the language has gained at the same time subtlety and virtuosity. This Sonata begins with great strength on a virile unison theme, which after a short respite is repeated with added counterpoint Mozart, and even better, one is tempted to say in a dynamic progression that rises from piano to fortissimo. The transition, which is striking for its harmonic modernism, leads to a second subject which is gentle and imbued with great charm. The second entry of this theme appears in the low register as if played by the cello : this is a very Schubertian idea but one which had its models in Mozart (e.g. the Sonatas K 309 and 533). The virtuoso conception of the conclusion is unusual in Schubert: we think on the one hand of the Waldstein Sonata of Beethoven but on the other hand it looks forward to the Viennese and typically Schubertian gaiety of the Overture to Rosamunde. Up to this point, the exposition proceeds in a quite classical manner, apart from the dissonances in the transition section. The development which then begins immerses us suddenly into harmonic and psychological chaos. What follows in the course of the next minute or so breaks with all the classical norms, and yet the thematic and rythmic fundamentals remain quite solid so that the unity of the movement is safeguarded a little Schubertian miracle. This combination of chromaticisms, free dissonances and mediant key relationships (modulations to keys a third apart) represent an evolutionary leap forward of at least 70 years, anticipating the boldest connec-
17 17 English Français Deutsch Italiano tions of Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss or even the young Schoenberg. The whirlwind subsides as suddenly as it had burst out and gives way to the recapitulation which, rather like that in the Sonata in C major, K 545, of Mozart, begins in the subdominant (F major), cuts out one measure of the main theme in order to add two more a little further on, and takes this first movement to a radiant close in the tonic C major. The second movement, a very lyrical Andante in F major, is certainly less disturbing than the Andante of the previous Sonata; but it has a finesse very similar to Mozart s in its writing, which is mostly in four parts. Thus what follows the first idea, in dialogue, corresponds almost literally to the return of the main theme in the second movement of Mozart s Piano Concerto, K 503. The form is ternary, with a middle episode which in turn develops one of the middle parts in a very novel way, with forward-looking sounds appearing that seem to presage Lohengrin, in parallel to the first movement. Here again the space that separates Mozart and Wagner is filled in an organic way so that no break in style is felt. The energetic third movement, a scherzo in A minor, full of youthful ardour and rebellious spirit, was called Minuet by Schubert in traditional fashion. But the tempo indication Allegro Vivace is enough to contradict the character of an elegant and rather peaceful minuet. Curiously, the same confusion had happened twenty years earlier when Beethoven used the title Minuet for three quick dance movements in his early works (e.g. the Sonata Opus 2/II or the First Symphony). But the confusion, indeed the error, is no doubt rather one of our traditional conception, according to which a minuet is a movement in relatively slow and grave 3/4 time. Recent research, however, shows that Mozart s minuets were themselves anything but slow. The trio floats in paradisiacal atmosphere; here Schubert creates completely novel sonorities, despite the connections with some fairly conventional chords that had already been used by Hadyn and his predecessors. One of the motives (very soft, with a note that is repeated three times, preceded and followed by rests) was used again by Schubert in the Scherzo of his last Sonata. In 1828 Walter Rehberg offered the hypothesis that the incomplete Rondo in C (D 346) had been originally conceived as the final movement for this Sonata. Many arguments support this idea: the paper is very similar to that used for the Sonata; Schubert s writing has the same juvenile roundness (it later became thinner and more delicate). The absence of any date or of any signature leads us also to believe that the Rondo was not an independent composition, but really part of a sonata; its style and poetic atmosphere (which indicate a relationship with certain moments in the second movement as well as with the trio of the third movement) also argue in favour of a direct connection between these two works. On the other hand in the way of contrary evidence we have the fact that the range of Rondo is very high and goes occasionally two tones higher than the rest of the work (up to a 5 ). But this argument hardly bears scrutiny: in the Sonata in A minor D 537, the second movement also had a higher range than that of the other movements, and
18 18 a narrower one in the Sonata D 568. It is very likely that this movement became separated from the rest of the Sonata because it was unfinished. We still do not know why Schubert did not finish it and we are reduced to conjecture; but it was certainly not because he could not manage it; its structure is far too simple for that. Perhaps it was this very simplicity which prevented Schubert from finishing it or from writing a finale. It might in fact be thought too inoffensive but for us, it is precisely that quality which soothes the heart and allows the Sonata to end peacefully. The circle is closed: the final serenity complements the gaiety of the beginning of the first movement. On the contrary, to end in the tortured and rebellious attitude of this minuet-scherzo would have given an impression of a non-ending. This Allegretto is moreover not as incomplete as it might appear: if we were to suppress the fragmentary section in F minor we would have a complete movement, too short it is true in comparison with others. That is why I prefer to end this Sonata simply with the material of the exposition, taking as a formal model the finale of the Trout Quintet, another equally inoffensive and serene movement which also consists of two practically identical sections. Sonata no. 3 in E major, D 459 march 1816 The first Sonata which Schubert completed in all its parts was written when he was nineteen and it is a masterpiece. It is not only complete but almost too complete, for it includes five movements instead of the usual three or four. It was this perhaps which led the publisher of the first edition, which appear-ed posthumously in 1843, to choose the title Fünf Klavierstücke (Five pieces for piano). Another reason may have been the lack of interest in the form of the sonata around the middle of the nineteenth century with the publisher thinking that a cycle of separate pieces would sell better than a sonata. Fortunately the autograph score of the first two movements which bear the title Sonata written in Schubert s hand, survive. Otto Erich Deutsch, the great Schubert specialist, therefore included it in his catalogue of Schubert s works under the title Sonata D 459. On the other hand the editors of the new Deutschverzeichnis wanted to be more particular than Deutsch and divided the work into two parts, namely a Sonata in two movements D 459 and three Pieces for piano D 459a. This does little service to Schubert for it divides a complete cyclical work into two fragments. More seriously these fragments are further separated by being issued in two different volumes of the new complete edition: this is not the judgement of Salomon, but a musicological absurdity! In favour of the thesis that the five movements really form a coherent sonata is first of all the fact that not only the first two movements but also the fifth, which truly has the character of a finale, are composed in sonata form (exposition-development-recapitulation). The succession of keys (E-E-C-A-E) which is carefully thought out, also corresponds to the cycle of the sonata. It is true that Schubert later acceded to the fashion for writing series of shorter pieces, with his Moments musicaux and Impromptus. But these works are fundamentally
19 19 English Français Deutsch Italiano different in that none of them adopt sonata form. Moreover Schubert himself never used the term Klavierstück chosen by the publisher of this work. Finally the consistent mood and the similarity of structure, with three movements beginning in unison, also argue the case for the unity of this globally serene work. Only the central movement, the Adagio, written in the darker key of C major, tales on a more serious mood. All the main themes of the first movement are lyrical, in the style of a Lied, written in the harmonious manner which Schubert had developed through the two hundred odd songs that he had written to date. There are hardly any contrasts, only an increase in emotion, in the course of this movement. It is tempting to describe the mood as heavenly. It is certainly no coincidence that Schubert quoted the final motif of this movement, almost note for note, in his song Elysium, composed one year later in September 1817: After the plaintive groans on eternal spring, young and sweet, settles on the fields (Schiller). Quite unusual is the use of sonata form for the second movement, entitled Scherzo, which is peaceful rather than playful. It begins with a mystical theme, in unison, which barely reveals its key, E major. It is only really in the ensuing transitional group, composed in the style of a Viennese waltz, that we recognize the key. The second subject and the final idea also have a dance-like character, while the development is marked exclusively by harmonic and polyphonic transformations of the main theme. The preparation for the return of the main theme in the recapitulation with six bars on the dominant of B major is a very subtle idea. Thus the key of the theme only appears again in a veiled manner, as the beginning of the movement, although E major is clearly perceived by the listener. The Adagio which ensues is not only the centre, the very heart of this Sonata, but it also speaks to the heart. Words do not suffice to describe the serious, melancholy and, even for a good part, tragic character which appears here music too eloquent for words to express. But in the fourth movement, a second Scherzo, the work s overall serenity pervades and remains dominant throughout the rest. This Scherzo has the character of a joyful Ländler with a poetic, tender trio that we feel tempted to accompany with humming. The final movement is entitled Allegro patetico. But only the main solemn, orchestral theme is pathetic or serious ; the second theme breathes a spirit of exuberant joy. A chromatic march almost literally anticipates a similar thought in the finale of the Trout Quintet, another work written three years later which has five movements with the same kind of key relationship that we find here. The recapitulation and coda are developed with a degree of virtuosity and end the Sonata in a brilliant manner. Sonata no. 4 in A minor, opus post. 164, D 537 march 1817 In 1817, Schubert concentrated his attention on the piano sonata form and in the space of a few months (between March and June) composed
20 20 six sonatas, the first of which in A minor is an acknowledged masterpiece. It is quite astonishing to see how, at the age of twenty, Schubert left far behind him all his predecessors, as well as his own quite successful earlier efforts of , and how he embarked on entirely new paths. Quite new are the highly coloured and sensual orchestral design, the harmony and clearly the thematic invention that often draws upon his experience in writing songs. More than in his earlier sonatas, we find in this work the essence of all his later work; in fact this sonata goes further than later works by Schubert, for it contains certain stylistic elements that already anticipate Bruckner and Mahler. These include harmony that has recourse to very varied tonalities, juxtaposition of the mediant within successions of chords, the frequent use of the second inversion as a final chord of deliverance and the alignment or repetition of short motifs which, at first sight, give the impression of primitiveness but which allow the formation of blocks of motifs which can constitute longer passages. In this sonata more often than in later works by Schubert, we also find a feature that is frequently found in Bruckner, namely the interruption of a development by a general pause, after which the music continues in a completely different way. The choice of the key of A minor had a symbolic significance for Schubert: it seems to express his tragic situation in the face of an inescapable destiny with a theme that is also found in the words of certain of his songs written in the same key, the premonition of death but also an obstinate defiance (Schubert had contracted syphilis, which was then considered incurable, at the age of sixteen or seventeen). It is surprising that the key of A minor does not appear in any of the piano sonatas of Haydn or Beethoven, and was used only once by Mozart in his tragic sonata K 310 written in Paris. Schubert turned to it three times, in D 537, 784, and 845. These three sonatas are closely related in mood, even though the last two were more expansive, while D 845 presents greater subtlety and greater richness in its thematic development. In the first movement the duality principle of the sonata is realized in an exemplary way: the main theme in the minor mode, energetic active and masculine, is contrasted with the second subject and the codetta theme which are elegiac, passive and feminine, and which are imitated in a superior unity that Furtwängler aptly compared to an ideal marriage. Something unexpected happens at the very beginning. After the first attack of the main theme, conceived as a group of five bars, we reach a ninth chord (bars 3-5) which proceeds to the second corresponding phrase in a way that would never have occurred to any other composer before Schubert. Instead of following the rules and resolving the top part of the chord E-D-F by descent on to E, Schubert moves the bass through F sharp to G while keeping the F at the top. Thus he reaches the dominant of the relative key (C major) before continuing on towards F major and in a new harmonic progression beginning in E flat major (!). This new harmonic progression culminates in one of those Brucknerian mediant juxtapositions mentioned earlier (from F major to D flat major)