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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Ken Iisaka #2810416 02/04/19 03:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Berg s sonata cannot be based on sonata form surely ? Although not
strictly 12tone ,I think he makes use of a kind of melodic series .
So is it a true Sonata ? Is it just a set of related movements ?
What makes a sonata ? Are Scarlattis works sonatas even though they are in one movement ?


Berg Sonata Op.1 is very much in a classical sonata form, with two main themes, with a clearly defined exposition, development, recapitulation and even a brief coda. It's not strictly atonal, though its extended harmony intertwined with rich chromaticism obscures the B-minor tonal centre. As the matter of fact, you hear the B-minor chord at the very beginning and at the very end of the piece, but its rich harmony actually follows very traditional rules as well.

It is certainly one of the most profound Op.1 ever written and I've performed it every now and then for the last 35 years. I still discover new things in it every time I revisit it.

If b minor is only implied what would the development comprise of?
Is it not more fair to say it is in ternary form and not definitely sonata form.The exposition usually comprises a "HOME" key so this would be an implied b minor which returns in the recapitulation? But how if the b minor chord only appears at the end of the piece .
It is a wonderful piece and it must be wonderful to perform it .

Last edited by Lady Bird; 02/04/19 03:46 AM. Reason: Missing word
Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Lady Bird #2810489 02/04/19 10:40 AM
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This latest series of comments reminded me of a comment pianist Ruth Laredo made regarding Scriabin's Sonatas (and I'm paraphrasing) -- ALL of his sonatas, including his later ones, which seem to be at first blush amorphous and gratuitously episodic, do in fact adhere quite closely to the established rules of sonata form. I don't know the Berg very well, but I have no doubt that what Ken is saying is quite true. And, if I recall, Aaron Copland opined that this aspect was pretty much what was WRONG with the Scriabin late sonatas -- he thought that the introduction of a musical language based on the "mystical chord" rather than "key" should have prompted a radical change in form as well.

Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Ken Iisaka #2810564 02/04/19 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Ken Iisaka
Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Berg s sonata cannot be based on sonata form surely ? Although not
strictly 12tone ,I think he makes use of a kind of melodic series .
So is it a true Sonata ? Is it just a set of related movements ?
What makes a sonata ? Are Scarlattis works sonatas even though they are in one movement ?


Berg Sonata Op.1 is very much in a classical sonata form, with two main themes, with a clearly defined exposition, development, recapitulation and even a brief coda. It's not strictly atonal, though its extended harmony intertwined with rich chromaticism obscures the B-minor tonal centre. As the matter of fact, you hear the B-minor chord at the very beginning and at the very end of the piece, but its rich harmony actually follows very traditional rules as well.

It is certainly one of the most profound Op.1 ever written and I've performed it every now and then for the last 35 years. I still discover new things in it every time I revisit it.

I played the Berg sonata as a piece for my final piano exam. It was the most challenging piece for me. Other pieces were Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, Mozart sonata F Major K332, 3rd movement, and Gulda Play Piano play #4.

About the Berg: It's a true sonata form. There is even a repetition of the exposition (which I didn't play for my exam). But the classical sonata parts can be heard very well.
What makes it different from most sonatas of the classical-romantical time is that it has only one movement. But it's a very long one; there are Haydn sonatas that are shorter.


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
patH #2810571 02/04/19 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by patH

About the Berg: It's a true sonata form. There is even a repetition of the exposition (which I didn't play for my exam). But the classical sonata parts can be heard very well.
What makes it different from most sonatas of the classical-romantical time is that it has only one movement. But it's a very long one; there are Haydn sonatas that are shorter.

Berg's Op.1 should be regarded in much the same light as Schubert's several unfinished opuses, like his Unfinished. Alban ran out of inspiration to compose the other movements, and it was his teacher Schoenberg who advised him to have it published as a single-movement sonata.

So, in that sense, it's unlike, say, Scriabin's later sonatas (e.g. his Masses), which were conceived as single movements from the start.


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Hakki #2810688 02/04/19 05:43 PM
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All very interesting thank you .Now for another listen to this wonderful piece !

Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Hakki #2811120 02/05/19 07:38 PM
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Carl Maria von Weber, 4(!) sonatas of which the 2nd used to be famous and deserves to become it again, Sergei
Lyapunov, who isn't that famous but his sonata is very worthwile: Liszt coupled to the Mighty Handful, Johannes Brahms 1and 2, Henri Dutilleux, Jan Ladislav Dussek: 'Elegie harmonique', Paul Dukas, Leos Janacek, JoaquinTurina, Benjamin Godard, Cecile Chaminade, Alkan (haha), Frank Bridge, John Ireland, Jean Sibelius, Ferrucio Busoni, Julius Reubke who is famous for having died at the age of 24 and having written only 2 pieces (and a bit more), one sonata for piano and a very good one at that, Paul Hindemith (3!)


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
dolce sfogato #2811162 02/05/19 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Carl Maria von Weber, 4(!) sonatas of which the 2nd used to be famous and deserves to become it again.

I second that. smile

I'm pretty familiar with all 4, have played through all of them, heard Gilels perform #2.
Funnily, the one that I first came across, which was #1, is the only one of them that I don't at least somewhat love. I came across it because the last movement, nicknamed "Perpetuo Mobile," is sometimes played by itself, and I happened to find an old recording of it by Alexander Brailowsky, then worked on it. I don't find the rest of the sonata very interesting
The other ones, I'd put in this order of lovitude: (not a word but should be)

#2, A-flat major -- lovely, through and through
#4, E minor
#3 D minor

Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Hakki #2811176 02/05/19 10:16 PM
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The Copland sonata and fantasy are certainly not to everyone's liking. I heard a former teacher of mine (Julian White) play the Copland Fantasy live, and while I found it challenging to listen to, I was fascinated that Copland had this entirely separate atonal language that he used which was so far from what is heard in his most popular pieces. It gave me a whole new respect for Copland.

I adore the Berg sonata, and yes, it's in sonata form for sure. I had a piano rebuilt back in 2005, and my rebuilder hosted a party in his warehouse space for my piano. Someone there sat down and played the Berg sonata, which for some reason I had never heard, and I was transported! I already loved Wozzeck and Lulu, so I was delighted to discover a Berg piano piece. And yes, it's an extraordinary Op. 1.


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
AaronSF #2811196 02/05/19 11:42 PM
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I recall listening to Julian White play the Copland Fantasy and the Berg Sonata at the same concert.


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Hakki #2811214 02/06/19 01:21 AM
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You're right! I guess that was the second time I heard the Berg. Dear Julian.


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
AaronSF #2811220 02/06/19 01:55 AM
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I may still have the program somewhere. There was Prokofiev Sonata #8, I think, and Hindemith's Reihe kleiner Stücke, as well.


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
Hakki #2812059 02/07/19 06:21 PM
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Balakirev, famous composer, very influential, his Tamara predates Rimsky's Sheherazade..., big sonata, the best sonata-effort of the the mighty handful


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Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
dolce sfogato #2812162 02/08/19 12:26 AM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Balakirev, famous composer, very influential, his Tamara predates Rimsky's Sheherazade..., big sonata, the best sonata-effort of the the mighty handful


I've been meaning to explore his piano music in more detail.

Islamey was important in the Russian school as well, and was orchestrated several times. It's a pity so many pianists have turned it into an opportunity to show how fast they can hammer the piano.

I used to listen to his piano concerto no.1 a lot. I'm listening to it now for the first time in decades. Great stuff!

Re: Rarely performed sonatas of famous composers
johnstaf #2812171 02/08/19 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
Balakirev, famous composer, very influential, his Tamara predates Rimsky's Sheherazade..., big sonata, the best sonata-effort of the the mighty handful


I've been meaning to explore his piano music in more detail.

Islamey was important in the Russian school as well, and was orchestrated several times. It's a pity so many pianists have turned it into an opportunity to show how fast they can hammer the piano.

I used to listen to his piano concerto no.1 a lot. I'm listening to it now for the first time in decades. Great stuff!


Islamey is probably his weakest work musically imo, but his Scherzo is wonderful as well as the sonata.

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