Recorded on 12/24/2011, uploaded on 12/24/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
A work that passes eerily between shadows and light as if below an ever-changing landscape of clouds, the Piano Sonata in A minor was composed in 1823. His first essay in the genre in four years, its composition followed his contraction of syphilis and the onset of the illness that would slowly claim his life over the next half-decade. Perhaps prompted by these efforts to salvage what he could of his health and being mainly confined to his father’s house, Schubert’s instrumental music dramatically changed during this time guided by an urgency to produce what music he could in whatever time was left to him. Gone was the gentle and polite music of before, and the genius that had already manifested itself in his lieder now broke forth unhindered into his instrumental music. Though he still struggled with aspects of form and counterpoint, Schubert’s music became increasing well-wrought and would ultimately culminate in the vast forms of his last works, namely his “Great” C major Symphony and the final piano sonatas. The Piano Sonata in A minor, often referred to as his fourteenth sonata, was one of the first pieces in this new line of creativity. However, the sonata would go unpublished until thirteen years after the composer’s death.
Sometimes stark in expression, yet always rich in substance, the Piano Sonata in A minor eschewed the pianism typical of Schubert’s earlier sonatas and familiar in the works of Haydn, Mozart and to some degree even Beethoven. The first movement opens with a theme announced in bare octaves, punctuated only by a solitary, but poignant, dominant chord. Propelled by a dramatic sense of urgency and strife, the movement’s motivic first theme eventually works itself into a thundering progression of chords of the sixth on a dotted rhythm. In sharp contrast to the stern and bleak nature of the first theme, the secondary theme sounds solemn and hymn-like in a radiant E major. However, this repose is too brief as the development begins first ominously but quickly becomes fixated on the thundering dotted rhythms of the first theme. The consoling E major tune yet gains victory in the movement as its final appearance, wonderfully embellished with a triplet rhythm, leads the first movement to a close in A major.
The middle movement, in F major, opens with a gentle lyricism. The charming scene is first disturbed by an impatient semitone figure separating the phrases of the melody, which seeming serves as an omen of impending troubles. The movement becomes more dramatic and disturbed with the appearance of a triplet motif that eerily suggests the turmoil of the preceding movement, and persists throughout much of the remainder of the movement, disappearing only towards the end.
The finale is a tumultuous movement contrasting two very different themes. The first is an impetuous motivic figure in the tonic key well suited for the initial contrapuntal treatment it receives; the second, however, is another of Schubert’s remarkably lyrical melodies in F major. The two melodies alternate until the second theme finally arrives in the key of A major via C major, and the sonata comes to a thunderous close in A minor. Joseph DuBose
Second and third movements reveal this performer's affinity for Schubertian expression. With delicacy, suppleness, and brilliance she captured the inherent drama of the sonata. Although I appreciated the directness and clarity of this performer's Goldberg Variations, I wish that she had found the space for a little rhythmic elasticity, especially at the central and final cadences of the variations. And the sensitivity for mood contrasts she displayed in the Schubert could also have been appropriately applied in the Bach, which seemed to me to be driven and academic.
We at classicalconnect.com believe that classical music is a necessity of life. It is our pleasure to be your virtual concert hall and bring you this performance.
Copyright 2008-2010 Classical Connect, LLC