Cast in two lengthy sections—an Andante introduction and an Allegro in sonata-rondo form—the Rondo in B minor is Schubert at his most extrovert and rhetorically forceful. Its technical demands are of a different order from the works of 1816–17, with the piano sometimes treated as a surrogate orchestra. The introduction begins imposingly with echoes of a French Baroque overture, before softening into a long-spun, Italianate cantilena. The question posed by its final two notes is resolved by the rondo Allegro, music of unflagging rhythmic energy, by turns skittish and strenuous, leavened by moments of stillness and harmonic poetry. The second theme, introduced by the piano against hyperactive violin figuration, could have strutted straight out of a Schubert Marche militaire. After a reminiscence of the introduction’s cantilena and a reprise of the rondo theme comes a central episode in G major whose affable tune is truculently developed through a daring spectrum of keys. The rondo theme makes a final appearance before the march kick-starts the barnstorming Più mosso coda.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2013