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Franz Schubert - Moments Musicaux, D. 780

Music > Piano Music

The Moments musicaux were composed during 1827 and 1828, the third and the sixth pieces, which were written during 1823 and 1824, excepted. Each is composed in a sectional form, and many are dances of some kind. No. 1 in C major is a minuet in the absolute abstract, meaning that, just as with a Chopin waltz, the music transcends all human footwork. The trio section rolls forward on wheels of seamless triplets.

The second Moment musical is an Andantino in A flat major, taking the shape of a gentle five-part rondo. The sparkling, dotted, homophonic, sicilienne-like rhythms in the opening music give way to pure melody and accompaniment in the form of regular left-hand arpeggiations in the F sharp minor B sections. The third piece was composed back in 1823. It has something of an Eastern European tang to it, and as a result the publisher originally tacked the label "Air Russe" to it.

There is something of Bach about the fortspinnung-like fourth piece, a Moderato in C sharp minor. It unfolds in the major mode in the middle portion, where any such reference to the minor is lost within a pianissimo dream world of richly textured syncopations that seem somehow to make reference to Johannes Brahms a decade before he was even born. More purely Schubertian is the Allegro vivace in F minor that follows, an athletic piece of equestrian rhythms. It is composed in as textbook a rounded binary form as one might imagine.

The final piece of D. 780 is an Allegretto in A flat major that returns to the otherworldly minuet variety of the first piece. Schubert plays with our harmonic expectations in the cleverest and most moving of ways. A move to E major during the second half of the minuet-proper (as opposed to the trio section) sounds somehow full of resignation; the modulation back to A flat a few measures later is absolutely heartwarming. During the little codetta that precedes the trio section, Schubert teases us with hints of A major/E major, but, in a startling move, snaps straight into A flat minor -- and since this opening section of music is repeated verbatim after the trio, it is in this bleakest of minor modes that the piece ends. No. 6 was actually one of Schubert's first publiced examples, since it originally appeared as an independent piece, entitled 'Plaints d'un troubadour', in December 1824.

Listen to Moments Musicaux D. 780

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