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Piano Sonata in B major, D575

1817; Op posth. 147

1817, the year in which Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed his Sonata in B major, was a year of significant musical activity in Europe. The Congress of Vienna two years before had stabilised European politics after the upheavals of the Napoleonic wars, and commissions for compositions once more began to flow. Rossini wrote four operas in that year, including La Cenerentola and The Thieving Magpie. Beethoven, much admired by Schubert, wrote his String Quintet, Op 104. Schubert himself composed his String Trio in B flat major. Although this sonata, catalogued as No 9, was composed in 1817, it was not published until after his death.

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


Schubert: A Schubert Journey
Studio Master: SIGCD645Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Schubert: Piano Music, Vol. 6
Studio Master: SIGCD836Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Movement 1: Allegro, ma non troppo
Track 1 on SIGCD645 CD6 [8'05] Download only
Track 1 on SIGCD836 [8'05] Download only
Movement 2: Andante
Track 2 on SIGCD645 CD6 [5'49] Download only
Track 2 on SIGCD836 [5'49] Download only
Movement 3: Scherzo
Track 3 on SIGCD645 CD6 [5'28] Download only
Track 3 on SIGCD836 [5'28] Download only
Movement 4: Allegro giusto
Track 4 on SIGCD645 CD6 [5'02] Download only
Track 4 on SIGCD836 [5'02] Download only

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