Chopin 3rd Sonata, final movement

Great young player…

This guy has been around awhile now, and I have not heard a great deal about him lately, but around the time of this recording he was blazing through international piano contests. I don’t like contests. In fact, I loathe them. But every once in a while someone manages to win them without losing his or her passion and individuality.

Lost in a sonata…

Chopin is often said to have been a master of less structured musical forms – preludes, mazurkas, waltzes, polonaises and so on. His sonatas are usually analyzed as flawed, not tightly bound together, with weaknesses.

I would agree with that, and in fact Sonata No. 1 is rarely heard. In case you are interested, here is a good performance. Keep in mind that he wrote this at the old age of – wait for it – 18.

But the last movevent of his last sonata, Sonata #3 in B Minor, I believe is easily one of the best things he ever wrote. Why do we not hear it even more? Probably because tradition is a very powerful force, and it is almost considered “bad taste” to play only one movement of a sonata – a way of thinking I could not disagree with more.

And this is why I say, “It’s lost in a sonata”. If more pianists played only this last movement, it would be as popular as a few other of his compositions, such as the “Minute Waltz” or “Fantaisie Impromptu”.

For those of you who have a bit more time…

Here is the 1st Sonata. As I mentioned above, Chopin was only 18 when he wrote this. It is obviously not one of his greatest works, but I think it is worth listening to a couple times, out of interest.

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8 thoughts on “Chopin 3rd Sonata, final movement

    1. The piece itself is unusual, but Rachmaninov did some very unusual things with the dynamics. He was, of course, one of the greatest musical geniuses ever to play the piano and was thought by many to be the greatest pianist on the planet.

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  1. Pffffft. We live in the era of “busting paradigms” and breaking rules.

    I, for one, enjoy breaking up whole works. My classical mixtapes (that’s playlists on linear non-skippable tape for our younger readers here ;o) were full of a movement from this, a few movements from that, and this other thing, because there’s only so much music you could fit on 45 minutes’ worth of tape (that’s half a C-90 for you young ones out there ;o) God I love digital. I carry all of Beethoven’s symphonies and so much more on one skinny old beat ipod hidden in my car =o)

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    1. “Traditionalists” are often both short-sighted and snobs. There are some collections of works that obviously connect. They kind of tell a story, and if you do not experience the whole story, you miss something.

      For example, even though I linked first to only the last movement of the Beethoven 5th, it’s not a terribly long symphony, and the movements reference each other. There are themes from previous movements in later movements. I don’t want to hear only one movement of that.

      However, in other symphonies there is not the same tight relationship between movements, and there are often dramatic weaknesses.

      Here is an example of one of the most amazingly original pieces of music ever written, lost in a full sonata:

      This is from an infamous competition in which the young player, Pogorelich, was dismissed from the competition, and one of the judges, Argerich, stormed off in protest. The rest is history. He became one of the most famous players in history.

      Now the most unusual performance I’ve ever heard:

      Supposedly this is one of the best sonatas ever written. I absolutely loathe the 3rd movement, which goes on forever and bores me to tears. It is a funeral march, thus the name “Funeral Sonata”. By the time I make it through that long thing I want nothing more to do with the whole thing, and I PLAYED the whole thing many years ago.

      So people never hear the last movement, which is eerie and short.

      Here is another short piece, same composer, this time buried in the middle of 24 Preludes that often played as a set. So it too gets lost, but unlike Sonatas performers have always programmed preludes by any composer in a mix and match format, choosing 3 o4 4 they like, in any order.

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  2. Chopin 3rd Sonata – I am not familiar with this piece. It appears to be quite difficult technically. After listening to this last movement I’m now interested in hearing the complete Sonata.

    Sonata No. 1- Very entertaining. The same groups of notes are heard in different variations.

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    1. You can find the rest of the sonata in You Tube with the same young player. Just search for the sonata and his name. But you have to listen one movement at a time.

      Here is a great performance by Argerich

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  3. I was given a piano and a book of sonatinas as a child, with the idea that I could learn by myself, which to some degree I did. I had no idea that the movements were “supposed to” only played together as a unit, so I happily played my favourite movements, seeing them each as “pieces”. I agree that the convention that sonatas must be played together or not at all seems a shame.

    I’ve only listened to the one movement (so far), which I enjoyed thoroughly.

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