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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67027
Recording details: October 1997
St George's, Brandon Hill, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Mike Hatch
Release date: March 1999
Total duration: 21 minutes 23 seconds

Piano Sonata in A minor, D784
composer
1823

Allegro giusto  [13'14]
Andante  [3'26]
Allegro vivace  [4'43]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Sonata in A minor, D784 (1823), and the Sonata in B flat major, D960 (1828), are the first and last of Schubert’s mature works in this form, and the former was almost certainly written at the time that Schubert first learned of the seriousness of his illness. The chilling desolation of its first movement’s first subject seems to be a direct response to that tragic news, the ‘strong-weak’ appoggiatura in bar 2 sighing wearily or angrily throughout the entire movement in both melody and accompaniment. However, as in so much of Schubert’s work, it is the moments of major tonality which seem the saddest. Perhaps only Mozart equals Schubert in this ability to transform the sunshine of a major key into a mood of heartbreak and pain.

The second movement is strangely unsettling for three reasons: because of the almost enforced normality of its theme after the bittersweet bleakness of the first movement; because this theme is doubled in the tenor voice, a claustrophobic companion seeming to drag it down; and because of the constant, murmuring interjections (ppp) between the theme’s statements. The helter-skelter finale introduces a note of panic, as triplets trip over themselves in their scurrying counterpoint. Here, as in the first movement, the glorious second subject, in the major, seems unsure whether to laugh or cry, calling to mind Rückert’s poem Lachen und Weinen which Schubert set the same year.

Beauty captivates the flesh in order to obtain permission to pass right to the soul. Beauty is a fruit which we look at without trying to seize it. (Simone Weil)

from notes by Stephen Hough © 1998

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