Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - Further analyses - Walker and others



35 is compared to any of Chopin's four stand-alone Scherzi, a huge contrast is evident.[188] Unlike all four stand-alone Scherzi, which contain a vehement coda and end in a triumphant manner, the Scherzo of opus 35 is rather tame by comparison.[189] This is evident in the quiet ending of the movement, as the melody from the Trio enters and slowly dies away. The feeling of expectation or questioning here suggests that the Scherzo has been moulded to fit the bigger context of the Sonata. This, in turn, provides further substantiation for those who opposed Schumann and Huneker's view that the four movements of this sonata were seemingly unconnected and thus cannot collectively be called a "sonata."


Charles Rosen raises an important issue with regard to the introductory four bars of the first movement of opus 35. He notes that a glance at the autograph in Warsaw shows that the repeat markings in almost every edition appear in the wrong place - bar 5 instead of bar 1.[190] This, according to him, makes "awkward nonsense of an important moment in the opening movement."[191] He believes that the repeat is clearly intended to begin with the first note of the movement, or else the harmonic change between the cadence in D flat major at the end of the exposition and the beginning of the accompaniment figure in bar 5 makes no sense. Thus the opening four bars serve a double function: they are a dramatic beginning, and a transition from the end of the exposition back to the tonic.[192]


Having examined the work of various commentators since the 1960's, recent publications of two influential Chopin scholars of the last decade or so will now be investigated. These are the writings of Jim Samson and Anatoly Leiken, the work of whom has contributed further to the understanding of Chopin's compositional idiom as it relates to the sonata cycle. This material will be examined in Chapter Nine.


[188] Kaiser, Joachim. 'Chopin und die Sonate,' in Musik-Konzepte 45 (1985), p. 13. Chopin's four Scherzi are opus 20 in B minor, opus 31 in B flat minor, opus 39 in C sharp minor, and opus 54 in E major.

[189] ibid., p. 14.

[190] Rosen, Charles. 'The First Movement of Chopin's Sonata in B Flat Minor, Op. 35,' in Nineteenth-century Music XIV/1 (1990), p. 61.

[191] ibid., p. 60.

[192] ibid., p. 62.


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