Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - The Finale



as well as a lack of formal clarity.[226] These views are by no means confined to the early- twentieth century either. In an article of 1985, Peter Benary concludes that the musical sense of the Finale remains "hidden."[227]


Jim Samson highlights the extraordinary construction of the single line in this movement, both in terms of phrasing and implied harmonic background. He describes the effect of the Finale as "...rather like a film sequence coming in and out of focus, with moments of relative diatonic clarity...undermined by the shifting, seemingly directionless activity surrounding them."[228] Diatonic clarity can be seen in the opening, bars 24-30 (established through literal repetition), the reprise at bar 34, and the final bars. For the rest of the movement, repeated shapes emerge only tentatively from a continuous stream of sound, thereby increasing the elusive quality.


Anatoly Leiken views the finale like a piece for unaccompanied cello, an instrument with which Chopin was well acquainted.[229] Leiken notes that the Prelude from Bach's Suite in D major for solo cello BWV1012 is a similar perpetuum mobile of four quaver triplets per bar, and that one of its main motives bears a striking resemblance to the main theme of the first movement of Chopin's opus 35. This parallel adds to his argument that the Finale should not be played too fast, or else not much remains of a Bach connection in such a performance, and the listener will have no chance of grasping the Finale's form. In addition, a fast rendition will cause the movement to appear athematic, whereas in reality it has "...a system of tonal and melodic repeats that creates a tangible trace of sonata form."[230]


Charles Rosen views the Finale as "...so much less radical than this Polonaise [in F Sharp Minor Opus 44] that it may be difficult at first to put one's finger on just why Schumann and his contemporaries were shocked by it to the point of considering it unmusical, although it is easy to understand why they were fascinated."[231] Formally,


[226] Cholopow, Jurij. 'O Zasadach Kompozycji Chopina: Zagadka Finalu Sonaty B-moll,' in Rocznik Chopinowski XIX (1987), p. 211.

[227] Benary, Peter. 'Ein Fall von Fehlinterpretation,' in Musica 39 (1985), p 28.

[228] Samson, Jim. The Music of Chopin (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985), p. 130.

[229] Leiken, Anatoly. 'The Sonatas,' The Cambridge Companion to Chopin ed. Samson, J. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 175.

[230] ibid., p. 175.

[231] Rosen, Charles. The Romantic Generation (London: Harper Collins, 1995), p. 294.


Previous      Next






©2010 Jonathan Oshry • joshry@hotmail.com