Saturday, December 17, 2016

some concluding remarks on a survey of early 19th century guitar sonatas--on scripts vs plans in composition and analysis, recovering a script-based approach as we see guitar sonatas don't follow the prescribed "plan" paradigm

This was supposed to be more comprehensive.  Molitor was largely left out.  Carulli was omitted altogether.  Molino was merely referenced.  Didn't even mention Darr or Luckner.  If I'd wanted to expand out into chamber music that featured sonata form Matiegka would need more mention, as would, obviously Giuliani but also Christian Dickhut, whose trios for flute, horn and guitar may not seem very deep but have their charms. 

If I'd dared to explore sonata forms as explored by 20th century composers the range of possibilities would explode.  Ponce, Jose, other usual suspects, these have already been written about at least a bit here and there.  Ponce's sonatas are probably going to remain at the top of the pyramid in terms of prestige and craft.  I'd like to make a case that Ferdinand Rebay's cycle of solo guitar sonatas deserves a more than just sympathetic hearing but that's going to likely have to wait until 2017 for that case to be made.  Probably ditto for sonatas by Dusan Bogdanovic, Nikita Koshkin, Guastavino and others.  Someone was kind enough to send me Cristiano Porqueddu's five-disc box set of guitar sonatas and the Gilardino sonatas in particular are pieces I hope to write about in 2017.  While they don't necessarily feature a traditionally recognizable sonata form the guitar sonatas of Atanas Ourkouzounov have been on me "to get to" list for blogging topics. 

So you probably get the idea by now, this could have become and could perhaps still become part of a larger project.  It didn't.  It took years to put this together as it was.  But it was nice to finally get something done and up on the blog. 

Sor's Op. 30, Allegretto--the composer's last sonata form

This is a sonata form that forms the finale of a set of variations so at one level it is a sonata form and at another level it can also be considered a kind of mass variation that resolves the variations that have come before it.

Sor's Op. 29, etude 10 in E flat major--an elegant and efficient sonata form hiding in plain sight in a dozen etudes

For years I have heard and read the axiom that the guitar is by its nature ill-suited to a musical process as complex as what we call sonata form.  This is nonsense.  I've been demonstrating that this is nonsense all week but this little exploration of a sonata form in E flat major composed by Sor should really settle the matter forever.  Whether we look at this etude through the scholarship of Charles Rosen, or William E. Caplin, or Hepokoski & Darcy this etude in E flat major is a sonata form.  It's also beautifully made, I dare say it's the most compelling sonata form Sor ever composed and it is also, fittingly, the most "textbook" of Sor's sonata forms.  Why wouldn't it be, nestled so comfortably in the middle of Sor's Op. 29 etudes?  I've written about this etude before, but since this week has been devoted to discussing sonata forms in early 19th century guitar literature it's worth writing about again.

You'll be able to peruse the score with some in-score commentary after the break.

Sor's Op. 29, etude 5 in C major--a sonata with a hybrid recapitulation (Theme 1 comes back but only as a gestural accompaniment to Theme 2)

I've discussed Sor's Op. 29 etudes featuring sonata forms in the past, here.  But it's worth discussing again. 

When scholars discuss Sor's sonata forms we tend to read discussions of the usual suspects: Opp 14 and 15, Op. 22 and 25, and Op. 30.  That's as we should expect and delineating the types of sonata forms we see in the multi-movement works of Sor has some valuable scholarly work given to us by Rattanai Bampenyou in a 2012 treatise called A Performance Guide to the Multi-Movement Guitar Sonatas of Fernando Sor and Mauro Giuliani.  It was through Bampenyou's dissertation I learned of James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy's Elements of Sonata Theory and William E Caplin's Classical Forms, both fantastic scholarly resources that should inspire debate and further research. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Sor's Grand Sonata Op. 25, 2--the big sonata that the last sonata was but a prelude for, also featuring a truncated recapitulation

Sor Op. 25, second movement

This is a large sonata but with an incomplete recapitulation.  The exposition may be construed as follows:

Sor's Grand Sonata Op. 25, 1--when a gloomy sonata movement is a prelude based on a single rhetorical pattern ... you can afford to have an incomplete recapitulation

Sor Op. 25, first movement

Theme 1 is merely eight measures long and leads into a modulating transition in the second half of measure 8. As short as this theme appears to be on the page the Andante Largo tempo has to borne in mind.  The harmonic rhythm is explicable in terms of half notes so that one measure of 4/4 at this tempo could cover what would proportionally be two measures of 4/4 in a livelier tempo. 

With that proviso in mind the first theme is a straightforward call and response.  The first phrase starts on the tonic and ends on the dominant, the second phrase starts on the dominant and resolves to the tonic.  By beat 2 of measure 8.  The spare texture shouldn't dissuade us from affirming that Theme 1 resolves in the first half of measure 8 with an authentic cadence of the sort we would expect in a first theme in a sonata form in the early 19th century.  There's no requirement that the authentic cadence be on a downbeat or be a perfect authentic cadence of the cumulative development and resolution of thematic ideas is explicable in such a direct, call and response eight-measure pattern.

You'll be able to consult the score below.

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. 

Sor's Grand Sonata Op. 22, 1: on the distinction between a "script" and a "plan" for a sonata (you can't really break rules that haven't been written yet)

We've been climbing the prestige ladder here in discussing sonatas for solo guitar written by guitarist composers.  Anyone familiar with the instrument and its literature would know that Giuliani and Sor would top the list here and they do.  

We're finally at Sor and it will be fun to discuss his work (even if I actually, personally, prefer Matiegka's approach to sonata form) because extensive English-language scholarly work on Sor's handling of sonata form has been relatively recent.  More importantly, I have believed for years that Sor's approach to sonata form has left out two entries in his work I will probably discuss tomorrow (Op. 29 etudes 5 and 10).

Today we'll be discussing the Grand Sonatas Op. 22 and Op. 25 and there's a lot we could discuss.  The most important and simple thing we'll be looking at is how Sor tends to favor incomplete recapitulation.  It's been one of the most basic reasons theorists and historians who have tried to grapple with his sonatas have been stymied by the basic question of whether Sor even used sonata form and whether or not, if he did use sonata form, he composed "good" sonata forms.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mauro Giuliani, Op. 150 Gran Sonata Eroica--another incomplete recapitulation in one of the more epic-scale sonata forms

It would be tough to find a sonata form for solo guitar bigger and grander than Giuliani's Op. 150.  They do exist but not everyone would necessarily find them as grand or charming as Giuliani's Gran Sonata Eroica.

You can give it a listen first if you don't already know this piece and/or you can read the analysis after the break.

Giuliani Op. 61, Grand Overture--a great big single-movement sonata form with everything where it's expected to be

Since others have discussed Giuliani's Op. 15 well enough elsewhere we'll go for the later sonata forms.

Thus, Op. 61.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wenzel Matiegka's Grand Sonata II, 2: a slow sonata in which Theme 1 comes back but not in a way that would count as a formal recapitulation

This slow movement is, essentially, a sonata form.  It may not seem like a sonata form at first hearing or at first glance, but I think a case can be made that it is, in fact, a sonata form.  A few observations to this end can be drawn from William E Caplin's book Classical Form (Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-19-510480-6, PAGE 209)--in slow sonata forms we can observe that the subordinate theme and transition are fused together; that the transition itself can be omitted altogether; or that the development section of a slow sonata is significantly curtailed. These will be matters to keep in mind when looking at this slow movement in Matiegka's Grand Sonata II.

Wenzel Matiegka, Grand Sonata II, 1: incomplete recapitulation featuring the second quarter of Theme 1 and skipping to the transition

Having proposed that Matiegka derived his Theme 1 from his Theme 2, and that his Theme 2 is indebted to Haydn, we can get to the development (which will include the coda from the exposition).
It's very important to note that Matiegka calls for a repeating exposition.  Remember what we discussed earlier in this series about how an incomplete recapitulation may be informed by things like high intra-expositional development, and that when this happens in the context of a repeating exposition we may find "redundant" content sliced out?  That's going to be borne out in this sonata form, too.

The exposition ends robustly in the key of E major and the development starts with a C dominant seventh that takes us into F major for the start of the development process.  The Theme 1 derived material is quickly followed by a development of the Theme 2 material.  This is followed by a call-and-response passage in D minor drawn from the Part 2 material of Theme 1.  Next Matiegka uses the florid sextuplet transitional passage as the basis for continuing the development.  You'll be able to see all this after the break.

Wenzel Matiegka's Grand Sonata II, 1: on the possibility of deriving your Theme 1 from your Theme 2

In our earlier post we looked at some themes by Haydn ...

and a theme Matiegka included in his Grand Sonata I, movement 1.

That theme ...

Wenzel Matiegka's Grand Sonata II: preliminary discussion of Matiegka's use of Haydn's themes.

For those who are already familiar with Matiegka's Grand Sonata II you may know that the finale is a bravura set of variations on Haydn's setting of "Liebes Madchen, hor mir zu" (pardon the lack of proper modifiers to the German alphabet there).  This is a particularly cheeky lied in which the singer is a man who has headed out to a convent to serenade a maiden he regards as too beautiful to be confined to a convent, serenading her on his zither and requesting the more or less stereotypical reward for his efforts. 

The Haydn lied ... with help from IMSLP.

Wenzel Matiegka's Grand Sonata I, 1: recapitulating Theme 1 in the subdominant key before re-establishing the tonic

Along the way this post will go through the entirety of the first movement of Matiegka's Grand Sonata I, 1 and will include a cadenza composed by ... somebody.  This is one of my favorite sonatas and it might be evidence enough for readers to see that I put together an edition of this sonata that includes a composed cadenza.  This was work I'd largely done last year and it was a lot of fun to do but it was also a lot of work.  I like this sonata and I feel it could be better represented in the repertoire and that Matiegka's approach to sonata form deserves more attention from guitarists.  Sure, the guitarists already familiar with Matiegka's work probably don't need to be told this, but there's a point at which Sor and Giuliani can be ever so slightly overplayed. :)  Matiegka may not rise to the heights of Sor or Giuliani at their best but I would suggest in a moment of blatant advocacy, neither could we say that Matiegka was apt to the kind of hackwork that has been characteristic of Diabelli in popular recollection. 

I'm going to revisit some ideas I presented last year about this sonata regarding the modulating transition.  A number of guitarists consider the G sharp that appears in the Boije 349 plate to be an error.  The contested G sharp appears as a purple note below (the break, along with the rest of the analysis ):

Wenzel Matiegka's Grand Sonata I, 1: observations about the exposition, initial observation about Matiegka's appropriation and recomposition of works by Haydn and Mozart

Matiegka's Grand Sonata I was first published in 1808 and is one of my favorites of the early 19th century guitar sonatas.  While the historical and textual case for Matiegka's debt to Haydn could be made on the basis of his Op. 23 sonata alone (which opens with a guitar transcription of the finale from Haydn's B minor piano sonata), the larger case for the extent to which Matiegka appropriated and developed ideas that can be traced to Haydn's work is more readily fleshed out in a pending discussion of Grand Sonata II.  Grand Sonata I is, by far, the better represented of the two grand sonatas in terms of commercial recordings and, of late, a print edition.  I've retained that contested G sharp note in the transition that has been omitted in some performances and a print edition.  I've also added a potentially redundant sharp for an A sharp in the transition you'll get to see soon enough.

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.

Molitor Op. 7 Grand Sonata movement 1: initial observations about the exposition themes

Simon Molitor's Op. 7 Grand Sonata, first movement.

At the risk of being every so slightly lazy I'm not bothering to analyze the introduction. It's an introduction and so it does what it's supposed to do.  Instead I mean to discuss the exposition, development and recapitulation of Molitor's Op. 7 guitar sonata.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Diabelli Op. 29, No. 3 in F major: Diabelli reaches his peak and provides a fine example of a sonata that only recapitulates the dominant key themes

Diabelli, Op. 29, No. 3 in F major

This is the most ambitious and effective of Diabelli's Op. 29 guitar sonatas.  It also threw me off when I was studying it because it's the best example of an exposition that presents a Theme 1 that never comes back in the recapitulation.

Diabelli Op. 29, No. 2 in A major: the one in the three solo guitar sonatas that actually has a "textbook" sonata form

Diabelli Op. 29, No. 2 in A major

Diego Milanese does some fine work on Matiegka's Op. 23 guitar sonata, by the way, but we're discussing Diabelli here so that's just a passing comment for folks interested in listening to more early 19th century guitar sonatas.

Diabelli's opens this bright and glittery sonata with a descending major scale that's reminded me of a similar descending scale-line in a B flat major piano sonata by Haydn.  We get the tonic scale-run, and then we get the dominant scale-run.  This is another case where the theme is, to my ears, two-thirds of the way to being ragtime material.  There are some fun, almost Giuliani-worthy tunes in this sonata movement.  Theme 1 and the transition are moderately easy to hear for what they are.

Diabelli, Op. 29, No. 1 in C major, movement 1: an incomplete recapitulation that brings back Theme 2 because there's only ever half of Theme 1

Diabelli Op. 29, Sonata in C major

This is the first and weakest of the three Op. 29 sonatas for solo guitar composed by Diabelli.  The first movement may provide the simplest evidence for my assertion.  Movements two through four are solidly made (rounded binary, menuet and rondo forms) but the opening sonata sticks out like a sore thumb. It's on the basis of the opening sonata form that I regard this as the weakest of the three guitar sonatas but it may be a useful case study through which to demonstrate that even in the early 19th century it was well within compositional norms to have a sonata form with a Theme 1 in an exposition that never comes back in the recapitulation.  The fact that Diabelli botched this where Chopin didn't shouldn't distract us from the fact that if both Diabelli and Chopin tried their hands at this approach to sonata form that it may not have been as non-normative as would later be implied by the prescriptions of books promulgating ideas about what sonatas should be.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A survey of early 19th century guitar sonatas, starting at the end with this year's reading on sonata forms and a preliminary proposal about recapitulatory processes in sonata forms

Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth Century Sonata
James Hepokoski & Warren Darcy
Copyright (c) 2006 by Oxford University Press

A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven
William E. Caplin
Copyright (c) 1998 by Oxford University Press
ISBN 978-0-19-510480-6
ISBN 978-0-19-514399-7

Five years ago, when I was blogging about "an overview of structural concerns in the sonata forms of Sor, Giuliani, and Diabelli" I was unfamiliar with either of these books or their authors.  I only discovered these two books in the last year thanks to a couple of doctoral dissertations on the guitar sonatas of Sor (and Giuliani, in one of the cases) that can be read over here:

The two books are treasure troves of study for 18th century sonata forms and they have different strengths and weaknesses.  The strength of the Caplin book is that Caplin explored each level of formal development in a sonata form; whether it's the four to eight-measure sentence or period, or compound thematic modules at the lower level; or ranging up to the highest intra-movement and multi-movement cyclical patterns.  The weakness is that such a general survey of music can skip over interesting details such as variants of forms.