PROGRAMME NOTES

Covid restrictions prevent us from handing out printed programmes at our concerts, so we include programme notes here.


Programme notes 2 June 2021

Duncan Honeybourne, piano

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

Piano Sonata in A minor, D784

I. Allegro giusto

II. Andante

III. Allegro vivace

Franz Schubert‘s Piano Sonata in A minor, D 784, is one of Schubert’s major compositions for the piano. Schubert composed the work in February 1823, perhaps as a response to his illness the year before, but it was not published until 1839, eleven years after his death. It was given the opus number 143 and a dedication to Felix Mendelssohn by its publishers. This was Schubert’s last to be written in three movements, and is regarded by many as the herald to a new era in Schubert’s writing for the piano. It is a profound, sometimes almost obsessively tragic work. Its first movement has a sparse texture, with many bare octaves which contribute to the music’s sense of bleakness and solemnity. By contrast, the second movement, in F major, is intimate and tender, but tinged with poignancy. The finale is a whirling sequence of triplet scale figures relieved by more lyrical passages.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Piano Sonata in A flat major, Op 100

I. Moderato cantabile molto espressivo

II. Allegro molto

III. Adagio ma non troppo – Allegro ma non troppo

This sonata is the middle of Beethoven’s final three piano sonatas, composed in 1821-22. Its first movement is calm and moderately-paced, and even its central section, in the minor key, does little to disturb the relaxed atmosphere. The second movement, by contrast, is robust, though with a gentler middle section, and is said to be based on two folksongs – We Are All Dissolute and Our Cat Had Kittens. The third movement combines several elements – a haunting recitative-like section where the music appears to die back almost to nothing, followed by a fugue which emerges from the (almost) silence to build to an impressive climax before falling back into an even more anguished version of the recitative marked ‘exhausted, lamenting’. The music gradually revives and the fugue re-emerges into one of the most glorious uplifting finales in all of Beethoven’s piano music.

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