Piano Sonatas D.664 D.784 Generally famous as a prolific composer of Lieder, Schubert is a relative latecomer to the piano sonata. It was only in 1817, at the age of 20, that he seriously branched out into the genre, and by that time he already had composed hundreds of songs, numerous symphonies and string quartets. Schubert's Piano Sonatas were not well received during his lifetime and were often neglected for a 'lack of organic development and loose structural plan', when compared to the works of his predecessors like Mozart or Beethoven. Nonetheless, the seemingly simple structure of Schubert's piano sonatas conceals the resonance of emotional depth, flowing melodies, and constant provocative key changes, which came to be praised and cherished by future generations. Schubert's twenty complete piano sonatas are often grouped into three periods. More than half of his sonatas were written between 1815 and 1819. After a four-year hiatus, Schubert revisited the genre in the years 1823-1826. The last three great sonatas mark the final bow of the composer in 1828, the year of his death. The two sonatas presented in this recording are of significance within this output: the Sonata in A Major, D. 664 written in 1819 concludes the first group, and the Sonata in a minor, D. 784 of 1823 opens the middle group series. Although four years of compositional progress and development lie between the conception of these works, the two sonatas still share a few commonalities: both are written in three movements, omitting the scherzo/minuet, both first movements feature bravura out-bursting development sections, each slow movement has but one theme, and both last movements employ very idiomatically virtuosic writing for the piano. . Published after the composer's death in 1829, the cheerful A major Sonata was composed in the summer of 1819, while Schubert was vacationing with a close friend Johann Michael Vogl in Vogl's hometown Steyr, a town in Upper Austria located in a mountainous area. The A major Sonata is believed to be inspired by Josephine Koller, a daughter of a friend, whom he described in his letter to his brother as "... extremely pretty, plays the piano well, and is going to sing some of my songs." Like most of his earlier charming small-scale works, the primary attribute in the A major sonata is lyricism, hence asking a great deal of sophisticated phrasing and delicate sound-production from performers. The melodious opening movement Allegro moderato is in sonata form, built around two surprisingly similar themes of tender and song-like characteristics. The coda brings out the reminiscence of the opening melody, and the movement comes to an end in a mix of calmness and nostalgia. The last two notes of the movement give unity to the entire work: these are the very first two notes of both the slow movement and the Finale. The Andante, a perfectly proportioned A-B-A structure, has an almost obsessive character with it's melodic and rhythmic pattern presented throughout the piece. It is an example of one of Schubert's finest lyrical inspirations, with the insistent yearning melody, and the multiple colors achieved through the use of a single idea. The light-hearted, joyful Allegro is a brilliant movement in sonata form. Constant running scales and embellished arpeggios of the first theme and the dance-like rhythmic second theme represent youthful vigor. A darker and more heated development section recalls the character of the first movement, leading into a surprising return of the exposition in the subdominant key of D. The first theme is restated in the tonic only in the coda, full of delightful pastoral feeling. The period following the completion of the A major Sonata generated a compositional frenzy in Schubert's output, producing the 'Unfinished' Symphony, the C minor String Quartet, the Wanderer Fantasy and the A flat major Mass. The year 1822 is pivotal in Schubert's life for important events took place: he met Beethoven; and tragically, he discovered that he had contracted syphilis. Forced to return to his father's house due to his health, Schubert was too weak to leave until the late spring of 1823. This frightening collapse produced severe depression in the composer, but did not prevent him from working. Schubert composed constantly through this dark period of suffering, completing the Sonata in A minor D. 784. This work can be seen as Schubert's response to his terrible illness with it's inevitable death sentence. The A minor sonata is in three movements, which share recurring thematic material. The first movement Allegro giusto, with it's sorrowful undertones, while in a typical sonata form, is very special for many reasons. First, it asks of the performer to produce varied color levels, from a soliloquy of the first theme, choral-like hymn for the second theme to orchestral sound effects in the development section. The atmosphere of the first movement is possibly the eeriest of Schubert's music up to this point: a pianissimo monologue followed by a stormy fortissimo are clearly an image of Schubert's own destabilized feelings at the time. This Beethoven-like sudden change of ff and pp is heard frequently throughout the first and the last movements, inducing a mysterious mood of unpredictability. The simple thematic and rhythmic motives of the opening four measures are constantly transformed and featured in the transition, the second theme and the recapitulation, positioning this movement as one of the most compact and organic among Schubert's works. The second theme in the recapitulation is presented in A major, leading to a warmer and tranquil ending. An air of reminiscence and remembrance of better times defines the slow movement, Andante in F major. The engaging arch-shaped melody is immediately followed by muted mysterious figurations. Same as the A major Sonata's slow movement, the single melody presented in the beginning is the single thematic idea throughout the movement. Nowhere it is more obvious than here the influence of composing Lieder, with their ability to describe even the tiniest nuance of the text. Schubert showcases his skill in maneuvering a single idea with subtlety, while creating a beautiful storyline within a short piece. One can hear Schubert's approach to dark fate in the last movement. In a rondo form, the Allegro vivace starts with the running triplets in imitation between the two hands in A minor giving certain intensity and furiousness. A melodious and rather pensive second theme soothes the nervousness. In compliance with the formal design, the second theme revisits different key areas,-F major, C major and A major-that were presented in the earlier movements. The work ends with racing A minor octaves, that storm into darkness. 12 Ländler, D. 790 Written around the same time as the rather dark A minor Sonata, the 12 Ländler, D. 790 are quite opposite in mood. Filled with charming and earthy dances, the 12 Länlder are arguably the most intimate and personal music that Schubert wrote, showing the mature creativity of the composer, and cleverly disguising the personal suffering of the composer. Schubert wrote more than 400 dances. Most of them are believed to be composed rather casually, created spontaneously for multiple evening events with friends. However, the D. 790 dances show a departure from such occasional compositional practices. They are of much more sober conception, not only because of personal illness (Schubert was admitted to a hospital in May 1823), but also when looking at organic tonal and motivic coherences between the dances, carefully planned and executed. Schubert's dances can normally be categorized into three types: Waltzes, Deutsche, and Ländler. The Ländler is a country-dance from Landl, a region in Austria, and it is the most rustic among the three. Of the 12, no. 6 stands out in particular, for it was later recycled as the scherzo movement of one of Schubert's crowning masterpieces: the Death and the Maiden string quartet. The 12 Ländler became known to the general public only in 1864, many years after the composer's death, through the efforts of one great admirer of Schubert, Johannes Brahms.