Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - Late reception 1940-1996



in agreement with the generally accepted opinions of that time (i.e., the late nineteenth-century), as presented in earlier chapters. D'Indy's assertion that Chopin was ignorant of counterpoint is questionable on even a cursory examination of many of Chopin's scores. For example, the Allegro maestoso from the piano sonata opus 58 shows possibly the clearest influence of Bach in all Chopin's works, by exhibiting much independence of voice movement. Gavoty maintains that d'Indy and his pupils' blind confidence in scholarly schemes is far from desirable, and that it "accounts for their perfect, inert sonatas - reinforced concrete to the marrow."[73]


Gavoty does not agree with the idea that because it does not obey the canons derived from the sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, opus 35 is an inferior work. He also disagrees with Schumann's comment that "[o]ne would say that the Polish background has disappeared and that Chopin, by way of Germany, is leaning toward Italy."[74] Gavoty's reasoning is that the singing episodes of the sonata have nothing of the cavatinas that liven the arias of Rossini or Bellini. He reiterates that Chopin was a Polish composer and that "...the fate of his fatherland was a constant concern of his."[75]


Some of the most influential writings on Chopin in recent years are those of Jim Samson. In his discussion of Chopin's opus 35, Samson does not attempt to "disprove" Schumann; rather, he provides suggestions for the unique characteristics exhibited in this sonata. These will be examined in Chapter Nine. For now, it is worthwhile mentioning one of Samson's important observations in his 1985 The Music of Chopin, in which he states:


When [Chopin] returned to the sonata in 1839...he had already proved himself a master of other lines of thought, musically speaking. The Sonata funèbre...is a dialogue between these lines of thought and the German sonata principle. Like the Russian symphony, it has been criticised often and vigorously for failing to achieve a result which it never sought.[76]



[73] ibid., p. 386.

[74] ibid., p. 387.

[75] ibid., p. 387.

[76] Samson, Jim. The Music of Chopin (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985), p. 129.


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