Friday, December 16, 2016

Sor's Grand Sonata Op. 22, 2--a slow sonata movement with a significantly truncated recapitulation

Op. 22, movement 2 (Adagio)

Theme 1 is a binary form cast in aabb (internal repeats for two eight-measure phrases).

The second group begins abruptly in E flat and spans from measures 17 to 59. We're talking about a Group 2 that's quite a bit longer than Group 1 in terms of sheer measures.  However, let's recall that by repeating the two halves of Theme 1 that the full playing time for Theme 1 is still 32 measures so the disproportion between Group 1 and Group 2 is not necessarily as great in actual performance as it looks to be on the page.

Having written so much about the first movement I'll try to keep things fairly brief here.  The most striking aspects of this movement are that we're looking at a slow sonata form but one in which the themes have a binary construction.  This is most obvious with Theme 1 but it is also in evidence for Theme 2, aka Group II.  The E flat major material can be said to open with an overture gesture before the sequentially developed lyric phrase appears in the fifth system of page 1 (noted in orange).  This idea is repeated with embellishments and then presented a third time with more pronounced harmonic movement driving toward a half cadence.  Once this half cadence is reached it is prolonged through the entirety of system 7 of page 1 before finally reaching its resolution in system 8. 





System 8 presents what I'll call the Climax Theme, which uses its tonic pedal to evoke the high tonic to leading-tone descent characteristic of the first half of Theme 1.  This kind of thematic/melodic call back within the exposition may help to explain the radically truncated recapitulation region Sor uses to complete this movement.  I've bracketed these parts of Group 2 in orange and red because only this Climax Theme and subsequent coda return in the close of this movement.  Not only does Theme 1, part 2 only receive a little development in the Development, nothing from Theme 1 Part 1 gets developed, nor do we see any trace of the dotted rhythm overture gesture from the start of Group II, Theme 1.  It's as though all of that were merely a prelude to the lyric phrase and its sequencing.  That theme, in turn, was in some sense a slow build-up to the Climax Theme with Coda. 

As noted about the first movement, it would seem that Sor had a propensity in his Grand Sonatas to compress and eliminate intra-expositional redundancies when composing his recapitulations.  While in the first movement he sliced out the first theme from Group II and the closing theme/coda from his exposition when composing his recapitulation, here in the Adagio the excisions are even more drastic.  Not only does Sor never bring back anything from Group I, he only brings back what is functionally the last half of his Group II material. 



Having composed two large sonata forms in a row, Sor completes the rest of his Op. 22 sonata with much simpler forms.  The back-to-back presentation of large sonata forms with such large excisions between exposition and recapitulation thematic catalogs is a pattern we're going to see in Sor's Op. 25 Grand Sonata II.  Truncated recapitulations are, if anything, as much the norm for Sor's approach to sonata form as a more conventionally "textbook" approach. 


The Op. 22 Grand Sonata has a boisterous opening sonata form against which the Adagio in C minor can be regarded as a grim postlude.  The Op. 25 Grand Sonata reverses the relationship, giving us a gloomy opening sonata form that functions as a kind of prelude or overture that leads into a very large sonata form.  That sonata, of course, will deserve its own discussion and analysis.

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