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The sonata’s first movement, Allegro, ma non troppo, is heavily chromatic from the outset, with striding octaves stating the first subject. After the first fermata, there is a key change to G major, and the second subject, accompanied by triplets in the left hand, is introduced in octaves in the right hand.
This section explores further keys, moving through E major and F sharp major, and is then repeated. The recapitulation is unusual among Schubert’s sonatas in that it repeats the exposition section exactly, transposed down a fourth to the home key of B major.
The E major Andante has a song-like theme, simply harmonised, followed by a passage with bell-like spread chords over a lyrical melody in the bass. Later, a heroic bass melody in octave semiquavers is overtopped with dense chords, and then succeeded by the original theme, now played against a similar semiquaver figure. The bass semiquavers continue to rumble ominously as the movement comes to its otherwise tranquil end.
The G major Scherzo has a lively dance rhythm like a brisk Ländler or a rather bucolic minuet, contrasting with the lilting rhythm of the D major Trio, which has a running quaver figure throughout its length.
The Allegro giusto last movement returns to B major in a 3/8 dance-like theme, not so much lilting as limping bravely, to which a second subject of great lyricism is added, and then repeated in the minor. The movement explores the key of G major before returning to B major at its conclusion.
from notes by Simon Rees © 2020
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