Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - The early analyses - Leichtentritt and Reti



Example 6: Rhythmic link between the first subject of the first movement

and the main theme of the Funeral March[118]

Rhythmic link between first subject of first movement


Leichtentritt's view of Chopin's harmonic idiom is interesting in that he sees the extensive use of chromaticism (especially in the development section of the first movement) as an important precursor to the harmony of Wagner.[119] With reference to the development section itself, he interprets it as a free fantasy over the main subject and distinguishes it from the thematic developments of Beethoven. Leichtentritt also highlights Chopin's effective manner of modulation at the end of the Trio section of the second movement in bars 183-188 (see Example 7), pointing to a similar usage by Beethoven at the beginning of the third Leonora Overture.[120] He observes that the octaves between the two hands have the effect of a darkening of the harmonic meaning of single notes. These notes also function as a means of delaying the re-entry of the Scherzo's main theme in E flat minor, as well as obscuring the overall harmonic function of the link between the Trio and Scherzo. This state of limbo is abruptly ended by the emergence of the E Flat minor harmony that provides a sense of relief to the listener as the repeat of the familiar material of the Scherzo begins in bar 189. It can thus be seen that Leichtentritt's thorough examination of Chopin's choice of harmonies sheds new light on Schumann's objection (see page 84) that Chopin's use of arbitrary, wild chord writing and excessive dissonance renders the detection of musical goals more difficult. The difficulty in ascertaining these goals is precisely the effect Chopin wished to create, and should not be interpreted as a compositional weakness.


[118] ibid., p. 228.

[119] ibid., p. 213.

[120] ibid., p. 224.


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