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Piano Sonata in D major, D850

No 17; Op 53

Franz Schubert wrote his Piano Sonata in D major, D850, while staying at the Austrian spa resort of Bad Gastein, due south of Salzburg, in August 1825. Bad Gastein was—and remains—a popular holiday spot, where the spa waters (later discovered by Marie Curie to contain radon) were thought to have therapeutic qualities. Schubert travelled there with his friend the baritone Michael Vogl, for whom he wrote many of his songs. Schubert wrote in a letter that he felt ‘imprisoned’ by ‘the incredibly high rocky walls … and the fearful depths below.’ Vogl had picked on Gastein as he was suffering from gout, and had decided that this spa town was the best place to take the cure. He also met his friend the poet Pyrker, two of whose poems Schubert set during his stay.

The sonata is in four movements, and has been noted for its Alpine qualities, both in melody and rhythm. The first, Allegro vivace, opens with a fanfare, immediately repeated in the minor, later developed in characteristic Schubertian manner in an exposition that wanders through many remote keys. The second subject has been compared to the sound of Austrian yodelling, and has some similarity with Schubert’s setting of Pyrker’s Das Heimweh. The second movement is in A major, and is in ABABA form, with a faster tempo than is usual in Schubert’s second movements of piano sonatas. The triplet figure that is so marked in the first movement reappears here. The second subject has some violent syncopation, which then merges with the more meditative opening subject as the movement comes to its conclusion. The third movement is a scherzo and trio in G major, with a lively, dotted quality to the scherzo and a steady lyricism to the trio. The last movement, again in D major, is a rondo in ABACA form, the main theme being a military march, repeated with variations and divisions, and interspersed with contrasting episodes, leading to a quiet coda.

from notes by Simon Rees © 2019


Schubert: A Schubert Journey
Studio Master: SIGCD645Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Schubert: Piano Music, Vol. 3
Studio Master: SIGCD833Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Movement 1: Allegro
Track 5 on SIGCD645 CD3 [8'57] Download only
Track 5 on SIGCD833 [8'57] Download only
Movement 2: Andante con moto
Track 6 on SIGCD645 CD3 [12'53] Download only
Track 6 on SIGCD833 [12'53] Download only
Movement 3: Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Track 7 on SIGCD645 CD3 [9'11] Download only
Track 7 on SIGCD833 [9'11] Download only
Movement 4: Rondo: Allegro moderato
Track 8 on SIGCD645 CD3 [8'51] Download only
Track 8 on SIGCD833 [8'51] Download only

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