Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor - Schumann's critique (1841) of Chopin's Opus 35 (Appendix A)



first reading in order not to lose the continuity. Such places one finds on almost every page in the sonata, and Chopin's often arbitrary and wild chord writing make the detection [of the musical goals] still more difficult. To be sure, he does not like to enharmonize, if I may call it that, and so often gets measures and keys in ten or more sharps, which [extremes] we can tolerate only in the most exceptional cases. Often he is justified, but often he confuses without reason and, as stated, alienates a good part of the public in this way, who, that is, do not care to be fooled all the time and to be driven into a corner. Thus, the sonata has a signature of five flats, or B-Flat minor, a key that certainly cannot boast any special popularity. The beginning goes thus: [The opening four measures are quoted.]

After this typically Chopinesque beginning follows one of those stormy passionate phrases such as we already know by Chopin. One has to hear it played frequently and well. But this first part of the work also brings beautiful melody; indeed, it seems as if the Polish national favour that inhered in most of the earlier Chopin melodies vanishes more and more with time, [and] as if even he sometimes turned (beyond Germany) towards Italy. One knows that Bellini and Chopin were friends, that they often told each other of their compositions, [and] probably were not without artistic influence on each other. However, as suggested, it is only a slight leaning toward the southern manner. As soon as the melody ends, the whole [barbarian tribe of] Sarmatae flashes forth again in its relentless originality and tumult. At least, Bellini never dared to write and never could write a crisscross chord pattern such as we find at the end of the first theme in the second part [undoubtedly mss. 138-53]. And similarly, the entire movement ends [but] little in Italian fashion, which reminds me of Liszt's pertinent remark. He once said, Rossini and his compatriots always ended with a "v�tre tres humble serviteur," but not so Chopin, whose finales express rather the opposite.

The second movement is only the continuation of this mood, daring, sophisticated, fantastic, [with] the trio delicate, dreamy, entirely in Chopin's manner: [that is,] a Scherzo only in name, as with many of Beethoven's [scherzos]. Still more somber, a Marcia funebre follows, which even has something repulsive [about it]; an adagio in its place, perhaps in D Flat, would have had a far more beautiful effect. What we get in the final movement under the title "Finale" seems more like a mockery than any [sort of] music. And yet, one has to admit, even from this unmelodic and joyless movement a peculiar, frightful spirit touches us, which holds down with an iron fist those who would



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