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On My Music Desk… Schubert Piano Sonata in A, D664 – Lyric Say

This, for me, is Schubert’s most genial piano sonata and one in all his hottest. Like a lot of Schubert’s work, it displays the Romantic spirit of the early nineteenth century, characterised by its lyrical magnificence, harmonic daring, and emotional qualities, particularly within the sluggish motion. It’s sometimes called “the little A major”, to distinguish it from his penultimate piano sonata, D959, additionally in A significant – an expansive work which shows a lot of the good-naturedness of the D664.

Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert © Hadi Karimi

Schubert students typically agree that this sonata was composed in 1819 when Schubert was on vacation in Steyr in Higher Austria. He wrote to his brother Ferdinand that the encompassing countryside was “unimaginably lovely”; whether or not the pastoral nature of this music was impressed by the surroundings the place Schubert was staying is unknown, however the sonata as a complete shows a fascinating sense of enchantment and amiability.

Schubert D664 1st movt theme

Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, D664 – 1st motion theme

It opens with a easy lyrical melody that flows with leisurely grace and magnificence. That is counter-balanced by a dramatic outburst of octaves in the course of the improvement part. Transient forays into darker harmonic areas tinge this music with Schubert’s attribute, however total, the environment of the primary motion is relaxed, enchanting, and amiable.

SchubertD664 2nd movt opening

Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, D664 – 2nd motion opening

The quick Andante center motion, with its completely proportioned construction, is considerate, hushed, and tender, marked by gently sighing repeated phrases on which the complete motion is constructed. It may descend into extra introspective, melancholy territory, however Schubert retains a way of heat by introducing a flowing accompaniment to the melodic line. And so, the temper stays dreamy and wistful.

SchubertD.664-3rd movt theme

Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, D664 – third motion theme

The buoyant temper is restored within the insouciant finale, whose essential motif is joyful and light-hearted with tumbling scales and dance-like passages which present Schubert’s keyboard writing at its most glowing. But regardless of all of the obvious lightness and attraction, the motion accommodates moments of nice drama and forcefulness in a brief minor-key episode, which is rapidly eclipsed by the return of the blithe spirit of the opening motif.

Though that is one in all Schubert’s shorter piano sonatas (c20 minutes in whole), it’s no much less difficult for the pianist. Maybe its best issue lies in reconciling its obvious simplicity and fairly salon melodies with its emotional complexity, which comes from Schubert’s daring use of concord and juxtaposition of motifs and concepts.

One in every of my favorite recordings of this sonata is by Maria João Pires – her rendition of the sluggish motion is especially high quality:

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 13 in A Main, Op. 120, D. 664 – II. Andante (Maria João Pires, piano)

In the meantime, Stephen Hough’s efficiency of the ultimate motion from his 2022 recording is an absolute pleasure:

Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata No. 13 in A Main, Op. 120, D. 664 – III. Allegro (Stephen Hough, piano)

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