Vladimir Horowitz plays Schumann Sonata No. 3 (1/4)


Part 1 Robert Schumann - Grand Sonata No.3, Op.14 in F Minor (Concert Sans Orchestre) 1. Allegro Brillante Originally in five movements, Schumann's Concert sans orchestre, Op. 14, was first published with only three movements in 1836 by Haslinger in Vienna. Schumann revised the piece in 1853, publishing the work as his Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor and dedicating it to German-Bohemian pianist and composer Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870). Haslinger persuaded Schumann to release the work in three movements, forgoing the two scherzos and retaining the slow variations as a contrasting middle movement. Also, "to whet the appetite of a more curious public," Haslinger decided on the title Concert sans orchestre, to which Moscheles objected. In 1853, Schumann reduced the number of variations in the slow movement from six to four and placed the second of the two rejected Scherzos between the first movement and the variations. The Piano Sonata did not receive its premiere until 1862, when Johannes Brahms (1833-97) gave a performance in Vienna. The main theme of the first movement summarizes Schumann's approach to the manipulation of material. An expansive, falling theme flows in the right hand over rapid arpeggios in the left. Almost immediately, the theme dissolves into repeated sequences derived from the theme that modulate away from the tonic. Fragmentary development of material in the style of Beethoven occurs in Schumann's works in places other than in the development section, wherein entire melodic passages transposed to new harmonies are often found. Schumann's Scherzo, marked Molto comodo (Very comfortably), brings to mind a stately minuet as opposed to a post-Beethoven scherzo. This is in part due to numerous accents on the third beat. The D major Trio moves through several harmonies, including D flat major and B flat minor, the main key areas of the Scherzo. Entitled "Quasi variazioni," the slow movement is a set of variations on an Andantino theme by Clara Wieck, Schumann's future wife. The descending theme is strikingly similar to the main theme of the first movement and may be the seed of the whole sonata, for it appears slightly modified in the Trio of the Scherzo and in the Finale. Also, Schumann's treatment of the theme in the third variation, in which he transposes a falling chromatic gesture up a perfect fourth, resembles the opening measures of the main theme of the first movement. The beginning of the fourth variation is directly related to the opening of the Scherzo in both pitch and rhythm. The variation movement has become a favorite among pianists, and it is occasionally programmed separately from the Piano Sonata.

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