The Piano Sonata No 4 in E minor Op 70 was produced in 1822 after a three-year gestation period. Weber was thirty-six and smarting from a bad performance of his incidental music to Wolff’s Preciosa
. Benedict claimed that: ‘The first movement, according to Weber’s own ideas, portrays in mournful strains the state of a sufferer from fixed melancholy and despondency, with occasional glimpses of hope which are, however, always darkened and crushed. The second movement describes an outburst of rage and insanity; the Andante in C is of a consolatory nature and fitly expresses the partly successful entreaties of friendship and affection endeavouring to calm the patient, though there is an undercurrent of agitation and evil augury. The last movement, a wild, fantastic tarantella, with only a few snatches of melody, finishes in exhaustion and death.’ Schubert seems more the model here than Beethoven, which may account for the work’s subtleties and lieder-like delicacy of expression. But Weber’s use of motifs rather than long-spun melodies and the restrained economy of the pianism involved evince greater expressive mastery and control than before. The Sonata is dedicated to J F Rochlitz, a critic who had praised the two preceding sonatas.
from notes by Frank Cooper © 2011