Liang Wang


Ariel Lanyi

Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, written in 1853 and published in 1854, is widely considered to be one of Liszt’s supreme works. A work in one movement containing three large sections, it was structurally unique at its time. Most of the thematic material of the piece appears in the opening bars and transforms as the piece unfolds. I hear in Liszt’s Sonata in B minor a colorful variety of writing: numerous pianistic passages intertwined with lyrical operatic sections and orchestra-like writing throughout the sonata. Performing the sonata is a “tour de force” because of its scope, its great musical content, and its technical challenges.
One-take studio recording performed at the Eden-Tamir Music Center, in Jerusalem, Israel.

David Chang



Johannes Brahms’ dignified Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, op. 5, 5th movement (Finale). Performed by Marc-André Hamelin, live in 2012.




Schiff Beethoven Lecture Recital Image. András Schiff ©Kowsky Birgitta

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– Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven (17 December 1770 — 26 March 1827)
– Performers: David Oistrakh (violin), Lev Oborin (piano)
– Year of recording: 1962

Sonata for Violin & Piano No. 9 in A major (“Kreutzer”), Op. 47, written in 1802-1803.

00:00 – I. Adagio sostenuto – Presto – Adagio
11:48 – II. Andante con variazioni
27:12 – III. Presto

The sonata was originally dedicated to the violinist George Bridgetower (1778–1860), who performed it with Beethoven at the premiere on 24 May 1803 at the Augarten Theatre at a concert that started at the unusually early hour of 8:00 am. Bridgetower sight-read the sonata; he had never seen the work before, and there had been no time for any rehearsal. However, research indicates that after the performance, while the two were drinking, Bridgetower insulted the morals of a woman whom Beethoven cherished. Enraged, Beethoven removed the dedication of the piece, dedicating it instead to Rodolphe Kreutzer, who was considered the finest violinist of the day. However, Kreutzer never performed it, considering it “outrageously unintelligible”. He did not particularly care for any of Beethoven’s music, and they only ever met once, briefly.

Sources suggest the work was originally titled “Sonata mulattica composta per il mulatto Brischdauer [Bridgetower], gran pazzo e compositore mulattico” (Mulatto Sonata composed for the mulatto Brischdauer, big wild mulatto composer), and in the composer’s 1803 sketchbook, as a “Sonata per il Pianoforte ed uno violino obligato in uno stile molto concertante come d’un concerto”.

Beethoven gave no key designation; although the work is usually titled as being in A-major, the Austrian composer and music theoretician Gerhard Präsent has published articles indicating that the main key is in fact A-minor. Präsent has revealed interesting connections to the 6th violin sonata op.30/1, for which the third movement was originally composed, and he believes that the unusual opening bars for solo violin form a kind of transition from the earlier sonata (or from its structural material), supporting the belief that the acquisition of the finale of op.30/1 for the “Kreutzer” was a compositional intention — and not a result of lack of time, as long suspected.

– The sonata opens with a slow 18-bar introduction, of which only the first four bars of the solo violin are in the A-Major-key. The piano enters, and the harmony begins to turn darker towards the minor key, until the main body of the movement — an angry A-minor Presto— begins. Here, the piano part matches the violin’s in terms of difficulty. Near the end, Beethoven brings back part of the opening Adagio, before closing the movement in an anguished coda.
– There could hardly be a greater contrast with the second movement, a placid tune in F major followed by five distinctive variations. The first variation transliterates the theme into a lively triple meter while embellishing it with trills, while in the second the violin steals the melody and enlivens it even further. The third variation, in the minor, returns to a darker and more meditative state. The fourth recalls the first and second variations with its light, ornamental, and airy feel. The fifth and final variation, the longest, caps the movement with a slower and more dramatic feel, nevertheless returning to the carefree F major.
– The calm is broken by a crashing A major chord in the piano, ushering in the virtuosic and exuberant third movement, a 6/8 tarantella in rondo form. After moving through a series of slightly contrasting episodes, the theme returns for the last time, and the work ends jubilantly in a rush of A major.


– Composer: Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (23 April 1891 — 5 March 1953)
– Performer: Grigori Sokolov
– Year of recording: 2002 (Live in Paris, France)

Piano Sonata No. 7 (“Stalingrad”) in B♭ major, Op. 83, written in 1942.

00:00 – 1. Allegro inquieto
09:23 – 2. Andante caloroso
17:40 – 3. Precipitato

Piano Sonata No.7 is the second of the Three War Sonatas. The sonata was first performed on 18 January 1943 in Moscow by Sviatoslav Richter.

On 20 June 1939 Prokofiev’s close friend and professional associate, the director Vsevolod Meyerhold, was arrested by the NKVD (Stalin’s Secret Police) just before he was due to rehearse Prokofiev’s new opera Semyon Kotko; he was shot on 2 February 1940. Although his death was not publicly acknowledged, let alone widely known about until after Stalin’s reign, the brutal murder of Meyerhold’s wife, Zinaida Raikh, less than a month after his arrest was a notorious event. Only months afterwards, Prokofiev was ‘invited’ to compose Zdravitsa Op. 85 (literally translated ‘Cheers!’, but more often given the English title Hail to Stalin, see my upload of that piece on this channel) to celebrate Joseph Stalin’s 60th birthday.

Later that year, Prokofiev started composing his Piano Sonatas Nos 6, 7, and 8, Opp. 82–84, widely known today as the “War Sonatas.” These sonatas contain some of Prokofiev’s most dissonant music for the piano. Biographer Daniel Jaffé has argued that Prokofiev, “having forced himself to compose a cheerful evocation of the nirvana Stalin wanted everyone to believe he had created” (i.e. in Zdravitsa) then subsequently, in these three sonatas, “expressed his true feelings”. It was therefore ironic (most especially given the musical allusion identified by Jaffé in the central movement: see below) that Sonata No. 7 received a Stalin Prize (Second Class).

– 1. The Allegro inquieto pays homage to and mocks the classical sonata form. As the tempo suggests, the tempo and rhythms are very nervous and suspenseful. The opening theme is mocking and harsh, and features many loud cluster-like chords. The second theme is a slow, thoughtful theme that seems to wander both through various keys and harmonies, and motifs. This long section begins to slowly pick up and results in the tumultuous, extremely chromatic and violent development. After reprising a portion of the slow section, a final quick, mocking fragment of the main theme is presented which ends in the only full statement of the key of the piece with a quiet, quick roll of the B♭ major chord.

– 2. Andante caloroso. The slow section is initially very beautiful, but seeping with sentimental emotion. Jaffé has pointed out that the opening theme is based on Robert Schumann’s Lied, ‘Wehmut’ (‘Sadness’, which appears in Schumann’s Liederkreis, Op. 39): the words to this translate “I can sometimes sing as if I were glad, yet secretly tears well and so free my heart. Nightingales… sing their song of longing from their dungeon’s depth… everyone delights, yet no one feels the pain, the deep sorrow in the song.” This opening theme quickly decays into an extremely chromatic section which sifts through various tonal centers, none of which seem familiar to the E that began the piece. After a clangorous, bell-like climax, the music slows and melts into the lush opening theme once more.

– 3. Precipitato finale, once described as “an explosive burst of rock ‘n’ roll with a chromatic edge”, is a toccata which boldly affirms the key of the sonata through a more diatonic harmonic language than found in the first movement. This is obvious from the very beginning, with simple B♭ major triads repeated over and over again. Despite a wide range of performance tempos chosen by different pianists, the effect is nevertheless imposing and exciting. The toccata culminates into a furious recapitulation of the main theme, taxing all ten fingers to the utmost, until the piece finally ends triumphantly in a thundering cascade of octaves. Where most pianists try to play the finale as quick as they can, Sokolov here tries to make the best dynamic build-up possible, to great effect.


Daniel Barenboim live from Berlin, 2006
Sonata No. 8 in C minor Op. 13 “Pathetique” 2nd movement
From concert No. 3


Daniel Barenboim live from Berlin, 2006
Sonata No. 8 in C minor Op. 13 “Pathetique” 2nd movement
From concert No. 3

Ashish Xiangyi Kumar

A stupendous recording of the greatest post-Beethoven sonata (at least, by popular academic consensus). Along with Andre Laplante’s recording this is probably one of the pinnacles of classical pianism. (Zimerman took 76 takes before he managed to get a recording of the Sonata he was satisfied with.) I have a great fondness for the ending of this sonata, with its very daring augmented-fourth leap from an F major (arrived from A minor) to B major chord.

The structural brilliance of this piece is unmatched, opening with a deliciously harmonically ambiguous descent. The sonata is constructed from five (or, depending on your choice of academic, four, or seven, or nine) motivic elements that are woven into an enormous musical architecture. The motivic units undergo thematic transformation throughout the work to suit the musical context of the moment. A theme that in one context sounds menacing and even violent, is then transformed into a beautiful melody (compare 0:55, 8:38, 22:22, 26:02). This technique helps to bind the sonata’s sprawling structure into a single cohesive unit. Michael Saffle, Alan Walker, and others contend that the first motive appears at the very start of the piece until bar 8, the second occurs from bar 9 until 12 and the third from measures 13 to 17. The fourth and fifth motives appear later in the piece at measures 105-108 and 327-338 respectively.

Broadly speaking, the sonata has four movements although there is no gap between them. Superimposed upon the four movements is a large sonata form structure, although the precise beginnings and endings of the traditional development and recapitulation sections has long been a topic of debate. Charles Rosen states in his book The Classical Style that the entire piece fits the mold of a sonata form because of the reprise of material from the first movement that had been in D major, the relative major, now reprised in B minor.

Walker believes that the development begins roughly with the slow section at measure 331, the lead-back towards the recapitulation begins at the scherzo fugue, measure 459, and the recapitulation and coda are at measures 533 and 682 respectively. Each of these sections (exposition, development, lead-back, and recapitulation) are examples of Classical forms in and of themselves, which means that this piece is one of the earliest examples of Double-function form, a piece of music which has two classical forms occurring simultaneously, one containing others. For instance the exposition is a sonata form which starts and ends with material in B minor, containing the second part of the exposition and development wandering away from the tonic key, largely through the relative major D.

Opus 13

Johannes Brahms
Violin Sonata No 2 in A major, Op 100

1 Allegro amabile
2 Andante tranquillo – Vivace
3 Allegretto grazioso (quasi andante)

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin
Lambert Orkis, piano


Allegretto, third movement from Piano Sonata No. 17, Op. 31/2

Wilhelm Kempff, piano (Live)

The Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, was composed in 1801/02 by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is usually referred to as “The Tempest” (or Der Sturm in his native German), but this title was not given by him, or indeed referred to as such during his lifetime; instead, it comes from a claim by his associate Anton Schindler that the sonata was inspired by the Shakespeare play. However, much of Schindler’s information is distrusted by classical music scholars. Renowned British music scholar, Donald Francis Tovey, in his authoritative book A Companion to Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas, states that “The story that Beethoven connected this sonata with The Tempest is evidently one of many such inventions by his biographer Anton Schindler”. The third movement, in the key of D minor, is very moving, first flowing with emotion and then reaching a climax, before moving into an extended development section which mainly focuses on the opening figure of the movement, reaching a climax at measures 169-173. The recapitulation is preceded by an extensive cadenza-like passage of sixteenth notes for the right hand and the coda which follows is quite substantial, reaching what can be considered the climax of the movement at measure 381, a fortissimo falling chromatic scale.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)


Adagio sostenuto, first movement from Piano Sonata No. 14, Op. 27/2 “Quasi una Fantasia” (Like a Fantasy) / “Moonlight”

Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano

The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata (Mondscheinsonate in German), was completed in 1801. It is rumored to be dedicated to his pupil, 17-year-old Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom Beethoven was, or had been, in love. The name “Moonlight” Sonata derives from an 1832 description of the first movement by music critic Ludwig Rellstab, who compared it to moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne. Beethoven included the phrase “Quasi una fantasia” in the title partly because the sonata does not follow the traditional sonata pattern where the first movement is in regular sonata form, and where the three or four movements are arranged in a fast-slow-[fast]-fast sequence. Instead, the Moonlight sonata possesses an end-weighted trajectory; the climax is held off until the third movement. To be sure, the deviation from traditional sonata form is intentional. In his analysis of the Moonlight sonata, German critic Paul Bekker states that The opening sonata-allegro movement gave the work a definite character from the beginningwhich succeeding movements could supplement but not change. Beethoven rebelled against this determinative quality in the first movement. He wanted a prelude, an introduction, not a proposition. By placing the most dramatic form (sonata form) at the end of the piece, Beethoven could magnify the drama inherent in the form. The first movement, in C-sharp minor is written in a rough, truncated sonata form. The movement opens with an octave in the left hand and a triplet figuration in the right. A melody that Hector Berlioz called a “lamentation”, mostly by the right hand, is played against an accompanying ostinato triplet rhythm, simultaneously played by the right hand. The movement is played pianissimo or “very quietly”, and the loudest it gets is mezzo-forte or “moderately loud”. The movement has made a powerful impression on many listeners; for instance, Berlioz wrote that it “is one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify.” The work was very popular in Beethoven’s day, to the point of exasperating the composer, who remarked to Carl Czerny, “Surely I’ve written better things.”

Quoted from Edmund Morris’ “Beethoven: The Universal Composer”

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)

London Symphony Orchestra ·193 videos

Animateur Rachel Leach leads an ensemble of LSO players through the first movement of Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone – one of the set works on the Edexcel A & AS Level syllabus.

Specially recorded by LSO Discovery, this seminar is especially relevant to those sitting their exam in May 2013.

Trumpet: Chris Deacon
French Horn: Angela Barnes
Trombone: Dudley Bright

Jon Michael Iverson·23 videos

Cellist Hanno Strydom and pianist Jon Michael Iverson perform Samuel Barber’s Cello Sonata, Op. 6. This performance was given on Friday, April 27th, 2012 as a part of MacPhail Center for Music’s Spotlight Series Concert entitled, “Contemporary Masters: The ABCs of American Composers.” Antonello Hall, MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis, MN.

Cello Sonata, Op. 6 by Samuel Barber
Mvt. I: Allegro ma non troppo
Mvt. II: Adagio 10’00
Mvt. III: Allegro appassionato 14’38

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Paul Hindemith – Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (1,2,3 parts). Vadim Novikov, trumpet. Michail Mishin, piano . Пауль Хиндемит – Соната для трубы и фортепиано (1,2,3 части). Вадим Новиков, труба. Михаил Мишин, ф-но.