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Franz Schubert - Sonata in A minor, D. 537

Music > Piano Music > Piano Sonatas

1817 was a year in which Schubert showed a particular interest in the sonata, writing six piano sonatas, of which two are incomplete. Written in March, the A minor Sonata is the first of the 1817 sonatas in order of composition.

The opening movement of the sonata is notable for its driving 6/8 rhythm, and for a main theme whose initial phrase culminates in a yearning dissonance. The middle movement of this A minor sonata offers a unique instance of a melody to which he made a quite conscious return in one of his late works: its opening subject re-appears as the theme of the concluding rondo in the A major Sonata, D. 959.

It opens with a phrase that is answered by upper register arpegglos, With the initial figuration providing a motif that finds a place In the transition to the subsidiary theme opening in the unexpected key of F major.

The end of the exposition makes use of a rhythmic and harmonic figure that proves of use in the central development, after which the first theme re-appears in the key of D minor, with A major established by the second subject and A mlnor restored in the coda. The E major Allegretto has more of a song about its principal theme. Schubert's adventurous sense of harmony allows a related secondary theme in C major and the return of the opening theme in F major and further exploitation of a repeated rhythmic figure before the eventual return of the opening theme and key. An ascending A minor scale, gently answered, summons the attention at the start of the final Allegro vivace, a movement prodigal in musical ideas and leading to a final A major, stressed only in the last chord of the sonata.

Listen to the second movement of D. 537 (Allegretto quasi Andantino)

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