Thursday, May 14, 2015

Matiegka Grand Sonata I, first movement, transition

If in the sonata forms of the better-known masters a lot of fascinating things happen within themes themselves, in the sonata forms of guitarist composers from the early 19th century many of the more dramatic things really take place in their transitions.  Matiegka's no exception.  His modulating transition is substantially longer and more substantial than his opening theme.
The case to be made for A sharps in measure 19 in the sample above is that we're in a modulating transition.  We've started in the dominant key but the reason it's a modulating transition is because the goal is to reaffirm that tonality before the entrance of the next thematic group.  To accomplish this, the use of A sharp in the block chords pushes the harmony toward B minor in first inversion, a subdominant function within A major.  While guitarists have recorded that last chord in the measure 19 as A natural and that sounds fine, for modulatory purposes having a secondary dominant function setting up the B minor chord reinforces the supertonic as the chord that will move to the dominant (E) for A major and cement A major as the new key.

Transitions were where 19th century guitarists liked to show off, econdary dominant patterns to prepare us for a  the new key, launches into a flourish of rising scale passagework that is predictable yet satisfying.  One of my music professors might have dubbed this "trite, but delightfully trite".  Crucially, Matiegka saves his repetitious sequencing for a space where he's got rhythmic momentum in his favor and he embellishes just enough on the second pass to keep things racing forward.  He also further cements that we've moved to A major by indulging in some ornamentation by way of submediant harmony borrowed from the parallel minor of the A major arrival point.

It is from this material, by and large, Matiegka draws a few of his ideas for the development, but we'll get to that in time.  Next, theme 2.


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