Schubert Fortepiano Sonatas II

Sonata No. 7 in E-flat Major (Imov. select.)

In addition to the interpretive values of the great fortepianist Yasuyo Yano, listening the Schubert’s Fortepiano sonatas on an original instrument, always has enormous added value. Second volume of Franz Schubert’s Sonatas for Fortepiano in which Yasuyo Yano chooses two of the greatest sonatas: No. 19 in C Minor and No. 7 in E-flat Major. The Sonata in C minor, D. 958 is characteristic of Schubert’s feeling of retreat. Towards the end, the movement rushes ever more quietly towards silence, before two brute final chords conclude this grandiose sonata. The Sonata in E-flat major, D. 568, begins with a thoughtfully cautious Unsiono. This rapturous mood is soon interrupted by a brisk transition, only to culminate in a swaying waltz-sweetness composed with supple chromaticism. The themes and their lively interplay always reveal a melancholy mood. 

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Schubert Fortepiano Sonatas

It can be speculated whether Franz Schubert, with the furious beginning of the Sonata in C minor, D. 958, composed in 1828, attempted to stand up compositionally against Ludwig van Beethoven, who was regarded as superior, to make a defiant “I can do that too” confession, as it were.

This view is sometimes reinforced by the fact that Schubert might have felt liberated by Beethoven’s death in 1827 and would finally have been able to step out of his shadow. Certainly, however, this interpretation does not do Schubert justice when one considers that many of Schubert’s very great works were composed before then – e.g. he composed the “Trout Quintet” D. 667 in 1819, and in 1824 the Octet D. 803 and the string quartets “Rosamunde” D. 804 and “Death and the Maiden” D. 810 – where would Beethoven’s “shadow” be felt in these masterpieces?

One can imagine that Schubert had had a certain, perhaps even great shyness towards Beethoven. Strangely enough, there is no record of a meeting between the two, even though they were both working in the same city at the same time in the same, relatively rare composer’s profession, and both were thus well known and respected. 

On closer inspection, Schubert’s compositions hardly appear as a will to distinguish himself from Beethoven, or even as an attempt to outdo him. His enormously extensive catalogue of works suggests that Schubert had spent almost every spare minute of his short life composing. Unlike Beethoven, who had to work out his compositions with countless notes, Schubert’s music almost always flowed effortlessly from hand to paper. By composing what he heard inwardly, Schubert was able to preserve his independence. The fact that he was exposed to a certain influence from the universally respected Beethoven can be regarded as quite normal and actually unavoidable, although it remains open how conscious Schubert was of this influence in his inspirations.

More than the music of others, texts, primarily poems, were an important source of inspiration for Schubert; he was inflamed by literary-poetic models, his soul literally merged with them. Finally, it can be said that Schubert embodied his Biedermeier era in an almost archetypal way, since the escape into the idyll, into the private sphere, was the essential feeling of the time. Beethoven was still rubbing up against the courtly representation of the late 18th century, whereas Schubert was probably too busy migrating into his inner self to care about rivalries.

Yasuyo Yano

Yasuyo Yano was born in Tokyo. Her teachers were Midori Matsubara, then Sergio Perticaroli and Carla Giudici at the Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Yasuyo Yano has also received precious advice from other famous pianists, such as Jacques Rouvier, Dang Thai Son and Paul Badura-Skoda. 

Yasuyo Yano now lives in Switzerland where she teaches the piano, Fortepiano and chamber music at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. She gives solo recitals and is also a chamber music performer, both on the Fortepiano and the modern piano. 

Yasuyo Yano tells of her encounter with the Fortepiano: “In Venice, in 2001, I played the complete Mozart  sonatas for violin and piano together with the violinist Giuliano Carmignola. Andrea Marcon, another eminent Italian musician, told me after one of these concerts that I should consider playing Fortepiano. I took his advice and I am today still thankful for it, because working with the Fortepiano has opened up entirely new dimensions for me. On the one hand, the Fortepiano enables me to imagine and hear how the music must have sounded back in those days, and on the other hand, the Fortepiano is quite different to modern pianos, offering a large spectrum for creative leeway with a rich palette of sound colors, a wide range of dynamics and the delicate response of the keyboard to touch. I had not expected all of this! But it was quite a long journey to master the instrument so that I was able to reveal these characteristics – a journey with a wonderful reward as it has lead me to Schubert.“ 

Yasuyo Yano, IBS Classical artist, has also recorded the integral of the Piano Trios by W.A. Mozart with the Trio Vega.

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