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



he sees it as a one-part invention in relatively simple binary form. He adds that this kind of binary "sonata" form without development was common from 1750 to 1800, after which it appeared frequently in opera overtures such as those of Rossini and Berlioz.[232]


Understanding the construction of the Finale is possible by means of a thematic and harmonic analysis, such as those by Riemann, Leichtentritt, Bronarksi, and Benary. This dissertation will reproduce that found in a 1987 Polish article by Jurij Cholopow, the translated title of which is "About principles of Chopin's compositions: Mystery of the finale of the B Flat Minor Sonata."[233] Part of this analysis can be found in Appendix B, a basic summary of which follows.


The first four bars have been viewed by some as an introduction, while others interpret it as the beginning of the first subject. Charles Rosen subscribes to the former view, adding that its harmonic outline recalls the opening four bars of the first movement.[234] Cholopow's analysis takes the latter view, interpreting the first four bars as the first subject, and bar 5 as the beginning of an episode.


Bars 5 to 23 form a largely chromatic episode (a term used by Cholopow but not Rosen), although the harmony gradually settles on the dominant of the relative major (D-flat). A new, secondary theme enters in D flat major in bar 23 and is repeated an octave higher beginning at bar 27. In bar 31, another episode (not so called by Rosen) begins in which the dominant of B-flat minor is carefully prepared, in Rosen's words, "in the most respectable Classical fashion," by its own dominant.[235]


Bar 39 marks the beginning of the recapitulation with a literal repeat of bars 1 to 8, with another episode appearing in bar 47. This reprise also contains elements of the first episode and the secondary theme which are developed toward a cadence. For example, bars 63-64 clearly recall bars 23-27, while bars 17-18 are recalled in bars 57-58 and 61-62. Views as to the location of the beginning of the coda seem to differ.


[232] ibid., p.297.

[233] This analysis can be found on page 228 of the article, under the heading 'Musical form as a whole'.

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

[235] ibid., p. 295.


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