Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Molitor Op. 7 Grand Sonata, movement 1: observations about the development and the recapitulation of Themes 2 and 3 without Theme 1

The development section begins with embellishments derived from the modulating transition. Eventually we get to material in G minor derived from Theme 1. The development, not particularly long, draws most from Theme 1 and the modulating transition before preparing the recapitulation section.

Now it is at the recapitulation that we observe Theme 1 is not brought back. Instead we get Theme 2, which is presented in the key of A major.  Modal mutation into the parallel key for a recapitulation has been a well-known option for a sonata form since, obviously, Haydn and Beethoven.  What makes this recapitulation slightly unusual is how Molitor brings back Theme 2 and Theme 3 without bringing back Theme 1.  Of course, this is something we can see in a far more famous sonata, Chopin's Sonata in B flat minor.  What I propose for both case studies of sonata form is that if a Theme 1 is unusually short in actual length or in terms of the material developed (certainly the case with Chopin, not with Molitor, where their respective Theme 1 materials go), this can be a sign that the material will not be brought back in the recapitulation.  It "may" happen, but it's not unreasonable or even an unusual deviation from sonata forms if Theme 1 doesn't come back. 

This can be particularly the case in sonata forms where there are explicit repeats of the exposition.  Chopin's sonata is the more durable and well-known case study but for Chopin's sonata and to a lesser extent for Molitor's Op. 7 what we see at work is a good deal of intra-expositional expansion for Theme 1 materials.  The core of Molitor's Theme 1 is, after all, a mere six notes.  Chopins Theme 1 in his B flat minor sonata is explicable as merely three.  In Molitor's Op. 7 we have a short Theme 1 and a transition that constitute the foundation of the development section and so Molitor's recapitulation can be taken as not beginning until Themes 2 and 3 come back in the tonic key, which they do.

Guitar sonata movements in which Theme 1 is omitted in the recapitulation are actually pretty common.  Molitor has this kind of sonata form in his Op. 7 but comparable examples can be found in the second movement of Matiegka's Grand Sonata II, Sor's Op. 22 and Op. 25 and also in Giuliani's Op. 150.  Another example is Diabelli's Op.29 Sonata 3 in F major.  We'll get to those in other spaces but it's worth noting that the previously mentioned patterns of heavy intra-expositional development of Theme 1 material (and/or the extreme brevity of said material) is a recurring pattern in these sonata forms that fail to recapitulate Theme 1 material.  We're particularly going to see this pattern emerge in the Grand Sonatas of Sor that we'll discuss a bit later. 

In fact this pattern of introducing first theme material that isn't brought back in the recapitulation is sufficiently common in early 19th century guitar sonatas it invites the question of whether Chopin's practice of the incomplete recapitulation was as unusual as some music historians have suggested it was.  It may have been a sonata form regarded as a "lower level default" in the language of Hepokoski and Darcy, but it would not have been classifiable as a genuinely "abnormal" option for a sonata movement.

So that you can see for yourself what has just been written about ... after the break ...

you can read the development through the recapitulation part of the Op. 7

Now whether or not you LIKE this sonata is an entirely different sort of question. 

I'd hoped to be able to tackle some of Molitor's other solo guitar sonatas to discuss for this series but there's only so many works that have public domain materials available for analysis.  It seems there's an Op. 11, an Op. 12 and a few other guitar sonatas and perhaps someone can gather all of those up and write a more extensive, more officially scholarly treatment of the solo guitar sonata at the start of the 19th century.  Until that happens, this sort of thing may have to suffice.

Next we'll turn to the composer who's my current favorite of the early 19th century guitarists who wrote sonata forms, Wenzel Matiegka, probably best described to non-initiates as the Haydn of the Guitar.

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