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Thread: Unusual examples of Sonata form...

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    Default Unusual examples of Sonata form...

    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently writing up an essay on Sonata form for a blog and I'm looking for example's of composers "thinking outside the box" in Sonata form. One example I thought of was Mozart's 16th Piano Sonata in C major, which begins the recapitulation in the sub-dominant rather than the tonic.

    I'm looking for a range of examples from both solo music and symphonic. Thanks!

    Kind regards

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    Senior Member Torkelburger's Avatar
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    In Stravinsky's Symphony in C first movement, the recapitulation (measures 226-353) is fairly exact, with the necessary key changes for the form, but the second-subject material is recapitulated before rather than after the repeated-tone first-subject material of m. 74.
    Last edited by Torkelburger; Feb-13-2016 at 03:18.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sam93 View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently writing up an essay on Sonata form for a blog and I'm looking for example's of composers "thinking outside the box" in Sonata form. One example I thought of was Mozart's 16th Piano Sonata in C major, which begins the recapitulation in the sub-dominant rather than the tonic.

    I'm looking for a range of examples from both solo music and symphonic. Thanks!

    Kind regards
    Beginning the recap in the subdominant was, I have heard, not all that uncommon in classical style. I've heard one symphony by Mathias Mann in which the first movement does this, but I forget which. It was an easy way to end up in the right key with minimal alteration of the exposition.

    Haydn 47/i — Recap in the tonic minor.

    Chopin Sonatas 2 and 3, Tchaikovsky's 4th and 6th symphonies, Rachmaninoff's 2nd, Shostakovich's Tenth, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, all begin the recap with the second theme.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Beginning the recap in the subdominant was, I have heard, not all that uncommon in classical style. I've heard one symphony by Mathias Mann in which the first movement does this, but I forget which. It was an easy way to end up in the right key with minimal alteration of the exposition.

    Haydn 47/i — Recap in the tonic minor.

    Chopin Sonatas 2 and 3, Tchaikovsky's 4th and 6th symphonies, Rachmaninoff's 2nd, Shostakovich's Tenth, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, all begin the recap with the second theme.
    And the first movement of his Fourth too, although it's preceded by the same material as in the intro.

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    Has anyone pondered what the possible reason for recapping on the subdominant (a fourth up or a fifth down) rather than the dominant (a fifth up or a fourth down) might be, in terms of weakening/strengthing the home key, and in terms of pitch register, instrumentation, and sonority? Do you see what I'm getting at? It would be interesting to see if certain keys used this subdominant recap more often than others.

    I.e., the fourth up/fifth down is a root movement/progression which more firmly establishes the new subdominant root and weakens the original tonic, while the fifth up/fourth down dominant root movement is weaker, and does not rob the tonic of any of its strength.

    Also, if you're in a distant (on the circle) key from C, such as G/Ab/A, or conversely F/E/Eb, then the distance from tonic might affect things, as well as what instruments are comfortable in those keys.

    I was reading that Beethoven recapped from C to E (the mediant), so why might he have done this? What are the consequences of a root movement by major third, rather than 4/5 or vi?
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Feb-16-2016 at 21:32.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Has anyone pondered what the possible reason for recapping on the subdominant (a fourth up or a fifth down) rather than the dominant (a fifth up or a fourth down) might be, in terms of weakening/strengthing the home key, and in terms of pitch register, instrumentation, and sonority? Do you see what I'm getting at? It would be interesting to see if certain keys used this subdominant recap more often than others.
    One reason for starting the recap on the subdominant is that, if one is composing in the major mode, doing so allows one to repeat the exposition without alteration. Since in the exposition one modulated up a fifth for the second theme, when one transposes the whole exposition down a fifth to put the first theme in the subdominant, the second theme ends up in the tonic.

    Recapitulating starting in the dominant? Huh? Do you have an example of this you could cite?

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I was reading that Beethoven recapped from C to E (the mediant), so why might he have done this? What are the consequences of a root movement by major third, rather than 4/5 or vi?
    What piece are you talking about? The second theme of the Sonata Op. 53 in C ("Waldstein") is in E major, which is an altered mediant, but you said recapitulates in the mediant.

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    The Russians are known to not strictly following sonata form (through extended elaboration, development, etc.).

    Cases in point:

    • as mentioned, Tchaikovsky's 4th & 6th Symphonies.
    • Glazunov's 2nd & Sixth Symphonies (the latter using a pretty extensive beginning, almost like a prologue). Also, his Sonata no. I.
    • Balakirev's First Symphony.
    • Myaskovsky's Sixth.
    • Then, a non-Russian like Chausson's B-flat Symphony.
    Last edited by Orfeo; Feb-19-2016 at 23:40.
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    How about Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto? Still searching for the reprise of that great opening theme of the first movement.

    If you find it call me at 873-945-6276.

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    Can I weigh in on this?
    The 'textbook' Sonata form is really an approximation when you think about it. At best, the terminology we know today came into practice in the 1830s, when the 'textbook' Sonata was already in decline.
    Sure, a *lot* of pieces follow that form. But for every 'rule' (i.e., modulation schemata, number of themes) it is easy to come up with quite a few works that break those rules.
    Take a look at Charles Rosen's "Sonata Forms" for an astounding survey of Galant and Classical period music. I got it recently, so I'm still working my way through it.

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    From the more obscure and experimental repertoire, here are all kinds of experiments in sonata form in Anton Reicha's wind quintets. The page https://www.idrs.org/scores/Lehrer2/Reicha/index.html has scores and parts as free downloads for all 25 of them, and you can read about the structure as well. For instance, here's a bit from the description of the first movement of Op. 99 No. 1:

    This interesting movement begins with a slow introduction in 3/8, during which time two rather angular solos, for flute and bassoon respectively, emerge over ultra-static harmonies. These solos are simply a portend of the almost avant-garde nature of the sonata form in 6/8 which follows. The latter is literally packed with intriguing musical ideas including three primary themes and a substantial set of closing themes, the second of which contains a wonderful baroque-like sequence followed by shocking chromatic harmonies. As one might expect, the development of such a movement is extensive: here it is based primarily on the thematic material heard at the start of the 6/8. But a surprise awaits us during the recapitulation: after the three primary themes have been heard, part of the slow introduction returns, embedded in the closing material rather than being placed at the head of the recapitulation. It is here that we begin to understand that this introductory material is, in reality, Theme 1 of the exposition. A fascinating coda, which includes a pyramid and motivic manipulation similar to that heard in the development, brings the movement to a brilliant climax.
    Or here's something about the first movement of Op. 88 No. 3:

    After a short, but fascinating introduction, a sonata form gets underway. In a word, this is a most-charming movement, filled with glorious melody. It is here that Reicha transitions into what will become his personal Romantic idiom for the exposition of a sonata form: a series of short melodies follow upon one another like the points of a Renaissance madrigal. The first of these, placed over a walking bass, is built up primarily from a motive contained in the first theme of the overture to Mozart’s Singspiel, Die Zauberflöte ; but there are an additional four motives in Reicha's theme. In all, the exposition consists of six primary themes, two tonicising closing themes, and an important transition. The development includes Themes 3, 4, and 5 outright, but two of the five motives from Theme 1 are actually treated to development. The recapitulation is often difficult to follow as can be seen from the new ordering of the themes: 1x y z, 2a, transition, 4, 5, 2b, 1x, 4, 5, 1x, 6, 6k1, 6k2.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Beginning the recap in the subdominant was, I have heard, not all that uncommon in classical style. I've heard one symphony by Mathias Mann in which the first movement does this, but I forget which. It was an easy way to end up in the right key with minimal alteration of the exposition.

    Haydn 47/i — Recap in the tonic minor.

    Chopin Sonatas 2 and 3, Tchaikovsky's 4th and 6th symphonies, Rachmaninoff's 2nd, Shostakovich's Tenth, Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, all begin the recap with the second theme.
    Scriabin's 5th piano sonata also recaps only the second theme group.
    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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    This thread is slightly old, but by far the oddest example I've seen is Beethoven's Coriolan Overture, which has a model exposition, recapitulation, and coda but is entirely missing the development!

    EDIT: Second-guessing myself slightly. It's either the Coriolan or the Egmont.
    Last edited by Kazaman; Mar-21-2016 at 01:41.

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    I don't know if this is what you're after, but the first movt. of Beethoven 3, while generally following sonata form (albeit vastly extended), the build-up to the recap is very unusual for the time. The way that cadence at the end of the development hangs on for what feels like an eternity. Then the horns begin the recap 2 bars too early, the rest of the orchestra barges in for the real recap, only to find itself veering off into C major just 4 bars into it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by maestro267 View Post
    I don't know if this is what you're after, but the first movt. of Beethoven 3, while generally following sonata form (albeit vastly extended), the build-up to the recap is very unusual for the time. The way that cadence at the end of the development hangs on for what feels like an eternity. Then the horns begin the recap 2 bars too early, the rest of the orchestra barges in for the real recap, only to find itself veering off into C major just 4 bars into it.
    Brahms does something similar in the retransition of the first movement of his Cello Sonata in F Major, with the first theme appearing in augmentation that briefly interrupts (but doesn't resolve) the dominant pedal.

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    Schubert's recapitulations in his 5th Symphony/1st movement (subdominant) and 9th Symphony/4th movement (bIII - C major to E flat major) have long stood out to me as very interesting - coincidentally both are in E flat major.

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