The Allegro in A minor, D947 and the Rondo in A major, D951 were written in May and June 1828 respectively, and may well have been intended to form a two-movement sonata along the lines of Beethoven’s E minor Sonata Op 90. Rondo was published in December 1828, less than a month after Schubert died, but its A minor companion-piece did not see the light of day until 1840, when Anton Diabelli issued it under the heading of Lebensstürme
(‘The storms of life’)—a catchpenny title that belittles the stature of what is one of Schubert’s most imposing sonata movements. Its turbulent opening pages meet their obverse side in the serenity of a second subject given out in the manner of a distant chorale which leaves any notion of storms far behind. The piece as a whole is one that makes dramatic use of abrupt silences—nowhere more startlingly so than at the end of its first stage, where the music breaks off in mid-stream, only to be followed by an unceremonious plunge into a wholly unexpected key for the start of the central development section. The development is entirely based on the opening subject, which is transformed in its closing moments into a delicately tripping passage that throws the explosive start of the recapitulation into relief.
from notes by Misha Donat © 2010