on Feb 25th, 2009Frédéric Chopin Sonata in B minor Op. 58 No. 3
Frédéric Chopin composed his Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 in 1844 and dedicated it to Countess Emilie de Perthuis. His last sonata for piano solo, it has been suggested that this was his attempt to address the criticisms of his earlier sonata Op. 35.
The sonata consists of four movements, similar in structure to the second sonata, with a lyrical largo replacing the funeral march.
- Allegro maestoso
- Scherzo: Molto vivace
- Finale: Presto non tanto; Agitato
A performance of the work lasts around 25-35 minutes.
The work opens on a martial note, the heavy chords and filigree in the opening of the first movement giving way to a more melodic second theme, eventually leading to the conclusion of the exposition in the relative major, D. Motives of the original theme emerge in the development, which, unconventionally, returns to the second theme (as opposed to the first) for the recapitulation. The movement concludes in B major.
The scherzo, in the distant key of E flat and in strict ternary form, characterised by ebullient quaver runs in the right hand, with a more demure chordal middle section. It uses a theme from the composer’s First Ballade, Unlike the scherzo of the B-flat minor sonata (and, indeed, the rest of Chopin’s contributions to the genre outside of the sonatas), it is exceptionally short, barely lasting two minutes in an average performance.
Despite a stormy introduction in dotted rhythm, the largo is serene, almost nocturne-like; a mellow and expansive middle section, again characterised by quaver figuration in the background of an intensely harmonic line, separates the more cantabile outer sections in B major. It is the most musically profound of the movements (Kraemer, 1991), in terms of a sustained melody and innovative harmonic progression; it rivals the extensive first movement in length alone.
Its dramatic introduction-a rising harmonic progression left hanging on a high dominant seventh-aside, the finale, in B minor, is pervaded by a “galloping” rhythm; emphasis in the melodic line on the first and third beats of each half-measure outlines the fifth through eighth degrees of a harmonic minor scale (lending prominence to the augmented second between the sixth and seventh scale degrees). The overall melody, chromatic yet rooted in the minor tonic, contributes a dark mood to these primary sections. A more triumphant second theme in B major, repeated twice in the movement’s A-B-A-B-A form, appears quite suddenly at the conclusion of the first (likewise when repeated); eventually rising during fleet-fingered runs over a left-hand melody, it tumbles back to a dramatic restatement of the main theme in both of its appearances. The piece concludes in a jubilant B major coda.