Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, 2nd movement
Marie-Claire Le Guay helps her student go further in his interpretation by providing some information on the context of the piece and telling him to play it tragically right away to set the tone. Everything Théo Peven plays must be more sustained, tenser. He must learn to control the weight of his arm better because the pianist cannot play this piece with only the hand and wrist.
Several times during the sonata, the pianist must “lift” the public in the air for a few seconds, much like an airplane taking off, to help with the transitions which can seem abrupt at times.
Marie-Claire Le Guay explains that like a vocalist, the pianist must make his piano sing. This can be achieved by linking the notes better and by anticipating what comes next.
Controlling your arm, elbow, and wrist to play smoothly and lightly.
Knowing the context in which the sonata was written.
Anticipating the transitions by accompanying the last notes.
Immediately setting a somber tone.
Keep the intensity up at all times.
The Piano Sonata in B-flat Major by Franz Schubert is a very moving and dark piece, composed in September 1928, only two months before the composer’s death. Many critics said that it is a “musical testament,” and it is considered one of the great monuments of classical music.
It is structured in four movements, a classic arrangement. It was dedicated to Schubert’s friend Hummel and was a remarkable success. The sonata is both a dream and a nightmare, both joyful and extremely sad and melancholic. These emotional variations are not easy to interpret, and the musician must pay close attention to the transitions for the piece to play smoothly.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Claire-Marie Le Guay’s feedback and comments.
First prize winner at International Contest of Chamber Music of Portogruaro in Italy (1990).
Claire-Mairie Le Guay is a highly sought-after solo pianist who has performed with many prestigious conductors and orchestras, including Orchestre de Paris, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the New Japan Philharmonic, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She is a prizewinner of numerous international competitions, including the Victoires de la Musique and the Banque Populaire Foundation. Le Guay has performed recitals at many leading festivals, among them the Festival International de Piano de La Roque d’Anthéron, the MDR Musiksommer, Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Germany, and the Lockenhaus Festival in Austria. Her recordings of Liszt, Schumann, Hadyn, Mozart, and Dutilleux have all been noted and praised by the press such as the Pianiste, Choc de Classica, Diapason, Gramophone, and Mirare. Claire-Marie Le Guay attaches great importance to musical transmission, a passion that has led her to participate in ‘Au coeur d’une oeuvre’ a concert series that took place from 2014-2017 at the Salle Gaveau in Paris, as well as a series of concert-lectures entitled ‘Concerts Guidés’. Since 2012, Le Guay has collaborated with the Opéra de Dijon in presenting various pedagogical projects, and has developed an educational project for families at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival. In 2015, Claire-Marie Le Guay was appointed Eisenhower Fellow in recognition of her commitment to the popularization and transmission of classical music. She has been a professor at the Académie de Musique Française of the École Normale de Musique de Paris since 2002 and is the Artistic Director of the Festival international de musique de Dinard.
Franz Schubert was born in Vienna, Austria in 1797 and displayed a natural musical talent at an early age. Growing up in a musical family, Schubert’s own brother would be his first music teacher. At 7-years-old, the young boy was sent to audition with Antonio Salieri to begin his formal education. After a successful meeting, Schubert was recruited to sing mezzo-soprano in a small choir for the services in the imperial Hofkapelle. Around this time, he learned how to play the violin, counterpoint, figured bass, singing, and organ lessons by his father.
His education would continue at the Royal City College, where he would remain for the following five years. During these early years of his life, Schubert already began to compose is first masterpieces. By adolescence, his understanding of composition deepened, and the now prolific composer wrote 150 songs by eighteen-years-old. Many of the lieder he wrote during this time are still widely celebrated for their mastery today. They include, An die musik, Nacht und Träume, Der Erlkönig, Ich wollt, and more.
Despite the composer’s genius and the fact that he managed to publish some of his works during his lifetime, Schubert was economically unstable, which worsened after 1824 after showing early symptoms of syphilis that would eventually take his life in 1828.
Franz Schubert’s work embodies two periods of classical music: Viennese classical and early Romanticism. His pieces are emotional and poetic in nature, but nevertheless fit a classical mold. Schubert enjoyed experimenting with expression, modulation and was very influential in the genre of the Lied.