Schubert's Instrumental Music: performance, genre, completion
Session 1: Approaches to performing the piano music
Roy Howat, 'Reading between the lines of the A major sonata (D.959)'
D.959 has the longest symphonic spans of all Schubert's sonatas. Probably the best known and most played of the late sonatas, it still poses challenges and queries of large structure, metre, hypermeter, tempo, phrasing, voicing and, in the stormy Andantino movement, what the piece is about. Is it abstract? Is it dramatically or operatically conceived? How does it relate to the rest of the sonata? This paper investigates these questions in the larger perspectives of the sonatas in general and in Schubert's dramatic thinking, paying some close attention to how he notates, what alternatives he might have had, and what he probably means by some ambiguous notations.
Even during the short span of Schubert's life, the design of the piano was changing at a rate which might be compared with the evolution of computers during our own times. In symbiotic parallel to this is the evolution of Schubert's compositions for piano, which make progressively greater demands on the instrument in terms of dynamic range and exploration of colour.
Taking as a cue the painting 'Charade at Atzenbrugg' by Kupelweiser (1821), Andrew Wilson-Dickson will consider the types of piano available to Schubert during his lifetime, illustrated by images and by his playing of Schubert on the University's Schrecker copy.