Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - Recent Writings - Samson and Leiken



material of the primary group has been atomised and thrown into various keys, it is a relief to hear it again it its original form and key.[212] He is thus hinting that even if Chopin restated the first subject at the beginning of the recapitulation, it would not amount to a structural weakness, as maintained by Walker.


Leiken makes an interesting literary analogy here. He associates the first subject with the hero and the second with the heroine. In the typical classic sonata, they are driven apart in the exposition, to be reunited in the reprise. In the case of opus 35, however, the tonal conflict of the exposition is left unresolved; this is owing to the lack of the appearance of the first subject in the tonic key at the beginning of the recapitulation. Here, then, the hero and heroine cannot be re-united because the hero dies. The Funeral March thus follows.[213]


Leiken offers another reason for the phenomenon of the compression of the recapitulation. He sees it as the restoration of the older binary form typical of D. Scarlatti's sonatas in the Baroque era i.e., return to a two-part rather than three-part form. Further evidence of Baroque tendencies in Chopin's work is seen in the contrapuntal writing of the first movement of the sonata Opus 58.[214] Jim Samson devotes an entire chapter in The Music of Chopin to Chopin's employment of Baroque compositional procedures.


Echoing Samson (see page 69), Leiken interprets the furious insistence on repeated octaves and chords in the Scherzo as an indication of its close connection to the Beethovenian tradition, on account of its explosive rhythmic power.[215] He adds that while Beethoven's scherzo is a transformed minuet, Chopin's is a transformed mazurka, with all the characteristic jumps or stamps on the second or third beat. Leiken also attests to the notion that the Scherzo is an integral part of opus 35, citing Walker's observation of the importance of the minor third in this movement as a unifying force throughout the four movements (see page 60). He believes that the Scherzo begins as a natural extension of the closing section of the first movement, in


[212] ibid., p. 170.

[213] ibid., p. 170.

[214] It should be noted that contrapuntal writing is not exclusively confined to the Baroque period.

[215] Leiken, Anatoly. 'The Sonatas,' The Cambridge Companion to Chopin ed. Samson, J. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 170.


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