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Piano Sonata No 2 in C minor, Op 20

'Rubinstein: Complete Piano Sonatas' (CDD22007)
Rubinstein: Complete Piano Sonatas
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Movement 1: Allegro con moto
Track 5 on CDD22007 CD1 [7'34] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Movement 2: Andante: Tema – Variations 1-4
Track 6 on CDD22007 CD1 [8'11] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
Movement 3: Vivace
Track 7 on CDD22007 CD1 [9'32] 2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)

Piano Sonata No 2 in C minor, Op 20
Rubinstein’s second sonata was composed between 1852 and 1854 and was published in 1855. The shortest of the four sonatas, it replaces the conventional slow movement and scherzo with a theme and variations.

Unlike the other sonatas, the second begins with a rather tentative version of the main theme and it is only after subsidiary material, derived from rapidly arpeggiated chords, that the melody appears in full strength. Also a reversal of the conventional role is the fanfare-like second subject. The development is straightforward enough, with excursions into E flat minor and A flat minor, then A major and E major before an enharmonic modulation almost violently restores the home key.

The theme and variations, which Rubinstein often played separately, form a graceful intermezzo, simple and lyrical until the Schumannesque third variation alters the mood. After the mild solemnity imposed by the minor key of the fourth variation, a short coda restores the tranquillity of the beginning.

The finale is another movement in sonata form, characterized by a favourite Rubinstein device of constant very rapid triplets. The excellent second subject is hurried aside and the exposition is repeated. The development relies rather heavily on sequential repetition of phrases from both main themes, but the return is handled very deftly, with almost orchestral colouring. Mendelssohn is clearly the model for the nonetheless effective coda.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1996

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Details for CDD22007 disc 1 track 7
Recording date
25 October 1981
Recording venue
Art Workers Guild, Queen Square, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Rubinstein: Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 4 (CDA66105)
    Disc 1 Track 7
    Release date: March 1990
    Deletion date: September 1996
    Superseded by CDD22007
  2. Rubinstein: Complete Piano Sonatas (CDD22007)
    Disc 1 Track 7
    Release date: September 1996
    2CDs Dyad (2 for the price of 1)
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