Schubert's Instrumental Music: performance, genre, completion
Session 3: 'Completed versions of the Reliquie Piano Sonata (D.840)'
Geoffrey Poole: 'Schubert's Relics'
Many composers seeking to establish their voice in the last quarter of the twentieth century found that the approved world of post serialist composition jostled uneasily against their fundamental musical response (and performance and training). For this speaker in his formative years the most influential figure was Schubert, and the relationship was destined to keep surfacing by means of reference, homage, or intertextuality in later pieces, as well as by gradual absorption into a personal aesthetic.
It will be argued that, often regarded as a meandering charmer, Schubert was an innovator in terms of musical architecture, sonority, and energy flow. It will be suggested that his attitudes to rhythm and to the changing focus of attention anticipate much that is happening in today's new music. The speaker will also illustrate how he set about making his most explicit homage, 'Schubert's Reliquie' for string orchestra and why this shift of medium was deemed necessary for the full realisation of the Piano Sonata D.840.
Brian Newbould: 'Capturing Lost Visions'
Schubert began a Piano Sonata in C major in 1825, completed the first two movements, but left only fragments of the last two. The work, known as the Reliquie, was to have been on a large scale, like Schubert's other late sonatas. When we have determined that there is a purpose in completing the last two movements on Schubert's behalf, we must then confront two special problems- one in each movement.
The finale as Schubert left it lacks not only a recapitulation but also what appears to be about half of its development. Making a good development is, at the best of times, a more hazardous task than devising a recapitulation. In the case of the third movement, a minuet, Schubert completed his own 'development' and reached the reprise of the opening before laying down his pen. But he broke with precedent by beginning this reprise not in the tonic key (regarded as de rigueur in minuet structure) but in the key a semitone higher.
How do we meet these challenges? I found some clues in previous Schubert completions I had made, and others in some of Schubert's own complete works from the period of the sonata. My discovery of 'mirror forms' elsewhere in Schubert led me to consider a brief flirtation with mirror thinking in the finale, where the counterpoint seemed to lend itself. Whatever localised issues were to be resolved, two broader considerations were paramount. To what extent should one respect the scale of the piece as apparently intended by Schubert- rather than, for example, taking the self-effacing route of espousing brevity at all costs to minimise the ratio of completer-input to composer-input? And how should one balance the relative roles of the completer as musicologist on the one hand and as composer on the other?