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Piano Sonata in G major, D894

composer
Op 78

 
Schubert wrote this sonata in October 1826, the year in which he completed his Great C major Symphony and his dark and brooding G major string quartet. He was already ill, and much of his music from the last two years of his life is melancholy and full of thoughts of death. This sonata, however, is relatively tranquil in mood throughout, although with some darker passages. Schubert’s publisher Tobias Haslinger gave the first movement, which is in sonata form, the title ‘Fantasie’, and the nickname has stuck to the whole sonata. Haslinger seems to have wished to present the four movements as separate pieces (piano sonatas having gone temporarily out of fashion) but there is no doubt that Schubert intended them to form a unified sonata. Schubert dedicated the sonata to his friend Josef Ritter von Spaun, an Austrian nobleman who was Schubert’s generous patron and the host of several of the Schubertiade gatherings at which the composer played his music to friends and admirers.

The first movement, Molto moderato e cantabile, is in 12/8 time, the opening theme a dance-like, dotted rhythm, which leads into the second theme of the exposition, a leisurely waltz. The first theme returns in the exposition in a tempestuous form, but the movement ends in tranquillity again. The Andante second movement, still in G major, also begins in tranquillity but progresses to a stormier episode. When the opening melody returns, it is with ornamentation, rather like the ornamented repeat in a baroque da capo aria, with its ABA form. The menuetto and trio are in the relative key of B major, turning to B minor in the trio, and whereas there was a waltz in the first movement, the triple-time dance here is a Haydnesque Ländler, the rural precursor to the waltz, both in the minuet and the trio sections. The final movement, Allegretto, is a brisk and cheerful rondo including two contrasting episodes.

from notes by Simon Rees © 2020

Recordings

Schubert: A Schubert Journey
Studio Master: SIGCD645Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Schubert: Piano Music, Vol. 5
Studio Master: SIGCD835Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

Movement 1: Molto moderato e cantabile
Track 5 on SIGCD645 CD5 [13'48] Download only
Track 5 on SIGCD835 [13'48] Download only
Movement 2: Andante
Track 6 on SIGCD645 CD5 [8'55] Download only
Track 6 on SIGCD835 [8'55] Download only
Movement 3: Menuetto: Allegro moderato
Track 7 on SIGCD645 CD5 [4'42] Download only
Track 7 on SIGCD835 [4'42] Download only
Movement 4: Allegretto
Track 8 on SIGCD645 CD5 [9'10] Download only
Track 8 on SIGCD835 [9'10] Download only

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