Hyperion Records

Sonata in F minor 'No 1'
1863/4; completed by Leslie Howard

'Tchaikovsky: Piano Sonatas' (CDA66939)
Tchaikovsky: Piano Sonatas
Track 1 on CDA66939 [10'52] Archive Service

Sonata in F minor 'No 1'
We do not know either the reason for the first sonata’s genesis, or that for its being abandoned incomplete and untitled; but the remaining torso is well worth rescuing—indeed, the material is every bit as strong as that of the C sharp minor work of the following year. The F minor movement first appeared (entitled Allegro) in the old Russian collected edition of Tchaikovsky’s works, with a great many editorial suggestions relating to missing accidentals, but also with numerous errors: misreadings, slips of the pen and uncorrected engraving mistakes. Tchaikovsky’s manuscript consists of 172 bars of music: a sonata exposition without introduction, and with a first-time bar leading to its repetition. The manuscript breaks off at an advanced stage of the development section. The present completion involved constructing a short return to the principal theme, the reworking of the transition and some slight varying of the second subject, and the writing of a short coda from a cancelled transition passage in Tchaikovsky’s manuscript, with a nod to the coda of another early Tchaikovsky piece, the Scherzo à la russe, Op 1 No 1. The aim throughout was, of course, to add as little new material as possible. The completed sonata movement, which runs to 338 bars of music lasting about ten minutes in performance, makes available to the public the work of a confident young Tchaikovsky whose rhetorical gestures and melodic lyricism anticipate the personal trademarks of the mature master. (Tchaikovsky adapted the second theme of this work to serve as the trio section of his Scherzo, Op 2 No 2.)

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1997

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