Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 120
In this masterclass, Professor Jacques Rouvier stresses the importance of having a harmony that matches and supports the melody. He helps student Yuki Osaki find a legato sound by releasing tension and using the pedal strategically. According to Rouvier, the performer must maintain levity in the hands to avoid hearing the vertical movement of the fingers too much. He also discusses tempo and the necessity of preventing an Andante tempo from becoming too slow.
Most importantly, Rouvier discusses the vocal elements in this piece. He suggests to Osaki that when practicing, she should first sing the music and then try to emulate that phrasing. This way, the student will breathe with the phrases and incorporate more direction and atmosphere into the music. The goal is to feel a direct connection between the performer and the music, despite the intermediary presence of the piano.
How to achieve legato.
Bringing out the harmony to support the melody.
Releasing tension rather than pushing too hard with the fingers.
Incorporating vocal techniques and breathing.
Determining the right tempo.
Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 120 was likely composed in the summer of 1819 when the composer was vacationing in the Austrian countryside. In a letter to his brother, he described the scenery as “unimaginably lovely,” which is reflected in the sonata’s beautiful melodies. Schubert dedicated the piece to a young woman he met in the town of Steyr, Josephine von Koller. The first movement, Allegro moderato, presents two flowing themes in sonata form grounded by underlying rhythmic motifs. The second movement, Andante, is flowing and monothematic, evoking a pastoral spirit. It is characterized by a recurring rhythmic figure of a long note followed by four shorter ones. The delightful third movement, Allegro, is light and carefree, described by musicologist Karl Wolff as a “Viennese waltz danced in heaven.” Schubert’s shortest complete sonata, this work captures the joy and contentment of youth in the summer.
Listen to how you sing. After, try to imitate how you sing because if you produce the sound of the melody with your voice, it's a direct connection with music. It's the reason why I think the singers do another job than we do. It's much more difficult for them because it's direct contact with the body and the soul and the heart and everything to the music.
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 Jacques Rouvier’s feedback and comments.
He won two Premiers Prix (first prizes): in piano performance (1965) In chamber music (1967).
Jacques Rouvier was born in Marseilles into a family of musicians. He attended the CNSMD in Paris (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse), where he was taught by Vlado Perlemuter, Pierre Sancan, and Jean Hubeau. He won first prizes in both piano and chamber music. Rouvier then decided to broaden his knowledge about wind section and leading orchestra at the CNSMD too. He owes much to Pierre Barbizet and Jean Fassina. Rouvier won several competitions such as the “Giovan Battista Viotti” International Music Competition, Maria Canal International Music Competition, the European Broadcasting Union Competition, the Long-Thibaud Competition, and the Competition of the Fondation de la Vocation. In 1970, he founded the Rouvier-Kantorow-Muller trio, with whom he still performs regularly.
Since 1979, he has taught at the CNSMD in Paris and at the Berlin University of the Arts.
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.