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Thread: Somewhat vexed by Solo Exposition...

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    Senior Member GrosseFugue's Avatar
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    Default Somewhat vexed by Solo Exposition...

    Been trying to listen more analytically during lockdown.
    And have a pressing question!

    Why are solo expositions so much longer than the orchestral exposition in concertos?
    I'm not complaining! Just asking.

    They seem to be as long as the Development section, if not longer!

    Because they're so lenghty and elaborate it’s hard for me to tell when the Development actually starts.
    Isn’t the Development often preceded by a big orchestrall tutti restating the main theme?

    Thanks for any clarification! I’m a non-musician who loves Classical and wants to get more grounded in the “technical” side.

    Anyway, here’s two examples.

    The lovely Rosalia Lasheras performing LvB’s 5th concerto.
    Am I right to assume that 9:53 mins in (the piant’s re-entry) marks the start of the Development?



    And here’s the fabulous Grimaud with LvB’s 4th concerto.
    Development starts at 8:12??? Again at the pianist’s re-entry?
    Is it always the soloist who starts the Development?
    "Beethoven is a humanist, and an arsonist."
    -- Jonathan Biss

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Development sections in the first movements of Classical Era concertos are normally significantly shorter than either exposition. The same is true of the development sections in sonatas and symphonies. The most obvious exceptions are a number of Beethoven's middle period and late works.

    It seemed to me that in the first performance you linked, the Fifth Concerto, the two expositions were roughly equal in length.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Feb-11-2021 at 16:10.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Go back to early Haydn and other galant works which adhere to more of a binary format with the B section containing both the 'development' and the 'recapitulation'. The development grew once the b section repeats were dropped.

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    The same is true of the development sections in sonatas and symphonies. The most obvious exceptions are a number of Beethoven's middle period and late works.

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    Read this thread over with interest, though I'm not real clear about what the issue is. Sorry.

    But it seems the question is centered on the relative lengths of expositions in classical concerti. "Why are solo expositions so much longer than the orchestral exposition in concertos?"

    My initial thought on this is as follows: Sonata Form in the classical tradition generally features two themes (Let's call them the dramatic theme and the lyrical theme). These form the "exposition", Often in a solo sonata, say for the piano, this exposition is repeated note for note. (Recall the opening movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, a familiar enough work. The two themes are introduced, there is the oboe tear-drop solo and some French horns and the exposition comes to a close, but then is immediately repeated verbatim in preparation for the development section.)

    In the classical concerto, the orchestra generally opens with the initial statement of the two themes, but rather than a verbatim repeat, the second statement of the two themes, of the expository material, is joined in by the solo instrument or instruments. Because the work is a concerto, a work intended to show off a solo instrumentalist, the second statement of the exposition often has a few more variants or elaborations in its structure, making it perhaps a little longer than the initial orchestra-only statement.

    Of course, then the development starts, and the solo instrument is still engaged, perhaps enhancing the sense of lengthened time to that solo-section exposition.

    What happens in later era works, during say the High Romantic period, the exposition themes one and two became much longer and more elaborately enhanced so that a repetition of the exposition was dispensed with. (Think of the Tchaikovsky Sixth Symphony, with its two great opening themes that play out with great elaboration and then meet that giant fortissimo chord that brings on the development section.) Romantic concertos tend to bring the soloist in right from the get-go. They don't have to sit at their instrument twiddling their thumbs or whatever awaiting the orchestral exposition to bring on their lead in for the repeat section.

    In any case, if one listens to classical music with some understanding of sonata form (common for first movements in so many symphonies, sonatas, and concertos) and pays attention to those two themes (the dramatic one and the lyrical one), it will generally become much easier to realize the point of entrance for the development. Beethoven and Tchaikovsky make it easy on us with their Symphonies Five and Six respectively, but with close attention most other sonata forms will reveal the goods rather clearly enough.

    For those uninitiated in the structure of sonata form, they would be well informed to attempt some better understanding of the form. The use of key changes is a fascinating aspect of sonata form, and is another feature that can help one keep track of the progress of the music.

    In any case, whether or not what I said here is any answer to the original question, I do hope someone might have found it of interest enough to further examine classical music structure by starting with a closer look at sonata-allegro or sonata form.

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    Senior Member Olias's Avatar
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    This may have been answered already but in very short terms, solo expositions are longer than orchestral expositions for three main reasons:

    1) Solo expositions have to modulate which generally requires some transitional material

    2) Solo expositions usually will have virtuosic passages for the soloist which add to the length

    3) Some composers (Mozart especially) added a third theme somewhere in the solo exposition so that the soloist could at least introduce some new content rather than just the new key.

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    Senior Member Olias's Avatar
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    By the way, here is a video walkthrough for Mozart's Piano Concerto #17 from my blog:

    http://somethingclassical.blogspot.c...ncerto-17.html

    There are many other analyzed works there as well as outlines of the musical forms that are written to be understood by "non-musician who loves Classical and wants to get more grounded in the “technical” side".

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