Franz Schubert

Piano Sonata No. 18 in G major ("Fantasy"), D. 894 (Op. 78)

    Description by Blair Johnston

    It was the idea of the original publisher of Franz Schubert's Piano Sonata in G major, D. 894, Tobias Haslinger, not to call the work a sonata. Presumably because he felt the gentle opening movement to be so far from the traditional, rigorous sonata-opener that he knew his potential customers would expect, he provided it with the rather misleading surrogate title "Fantasie, Andante, Menuetto, and Allegretto"; the entire Sonata has ever since been known as "Fantasy," or "Sonata-Fantasy". This is ironic, since the opening movement that inspired Haslinger's nomenclature is probably one of the tamest and "most perfect" (as Robert Schumann said of it) sonata-allegros Schubert ever composed.

    D. 894 was written during October 1826, and is one of just three Schubert piano sonatas published during the composer's lifetime (in 1827, as Opus 78). Schubert had to take what he could get from publishers, and, however he might have felt about the work's title, his stagnant finances hardly put him in a position to bicker.

    The four movements are Molto moderato e cantabile, Andante (Schubert's preferred indication for a sonata "slow" movement), Allegro moderato (the minuet and trio), and Allegretto. The first movement differs from the textbook sonata-allegro only in texture and tone, not in the basics of its actual form: the two principal subjects are both given in their traditional keys and, unlike many of Schubert's sonata-movements, the recapitulation takes place in the home key of G major. There may be no more patient melody in all of Schubert than the pianissimo opening tune, whose animation seems at times to become all but suspended. The unseen force that propels this relaxed exposition comes to the fore in the cataclysmic, triple-fortissimo climaxes of the development.

    The tender, almost Schumannesque main melody of the following Andante is made to embrace some wildly contrasting sections of music, during which fortissimo sforzandos spill over into cascading figures. The Minuet is aristocratic, with a gracious, ornamented trio.

    The refrain theme of the Rondo finale is nearly as unhurried as the opening theme of the first movement. The delightfully contrasting ideas include a happy peasant dance and, during the central episode, a cantabile tune in C minor. After the last reprise of the refrain idea, to which is appended a witty and wonderful coda, the four bars that opened the movement appear one last time -- un poco più lento, lovingly -- to draw the final cadence.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Molto moderato cantabile
    2. Andante
    3. Minuetto. Allegro moderato
    4. Allegretto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Gramola GRAM 99158
    2017 Hänssler Classic HC 16062
    2017 Claves 501707
    2017 Claves
    2017 EaSonus EAS 29300
    2017 APR (Appian) APR 6022
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797371
    2016 Genuin GEN 16413
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796187
    2016 CAvi-music AVI 8553336
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295974954
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795545
    2015 ECM / ECM New Series 4811572
    2015 MSR Classics MS 1557
    2015 Nimbus Alliance NI 6297
    2015 Testament SBT 21505
    2015 Erato 0825646166992
    2015 Decca 4811437
    2015 Oehms Classics OC 012
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002231
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4792783
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 Azica Records 71278
    2013 ATMA Classique ACD 22681
    2013 Decca
    2012 Capriccio Records C 7125
    2011 Naïve OP 30528
    2011 Sospiro / Sospiro Records SOS 492
    2011 Harmonia Mundi HMC 90211516
    2011 Decca 4783018
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 4782622
    2011 Gramola 98929/30
    2010 Decca 4782340
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca
    2010 Mirare 119
    2010 Capriccio Records 5028
    2009 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2009 Avi 8553150
    2009 Avie 2157
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 902021
    2009 Transart Live 130
    2009 Arcana 409
    2009 Brilliant Classics 92770
    2009 Newport Classics 60177/2
    2008 Oehms Classics 593
    2008 Haenssler 98287
    2008 Brilliant 93673
    2008 Berlin Classics 184482
    2008 Et'Cetera 1331
    2008 Philips 4780421
    2007 Forlane 16756
    2007 Sony Classical 88697135902
    2007 Decca 000943802
    2007 Amon Ra CDSAR 13
    2007 Apex
    2007 Nimbus 5474
    2007 Naïve OP 30387
    2007 EMI Music Distribution 385853
    2007 Scandinavian Classics 220548
    2007 Brilliant 93180
    2006 Nimbus 1732
    2006 Philips 473926
    2006 Philips 4757191
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99798
    2006 Harmonia Mundi 2908201
    2006 Ottavo 68608
    2006 Philips 4757497
    2006 Philips 475 7947
    2005 Classico 548/50
    2005 Decca
    2005 Decca 000567802
    2005 Fleur de Son 57963
    2004 Palexa 529
    2004 Philips 000410402
    2004 Brilliant 92394
    2004 Brilliant 92229
    2003 Naïve 30388
    2003 Nimbus 1799
    2002 Sony Music Distribution 89647
    2001 Tudor Records 750/52
    2001 Philips 456573
    2001 Divine Art 1202
    2000 Harmonia Mundi 901697
    2000 Analekta 24011-7
    2000 Arts Music 47562
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463766
    2000 Nosag Records 025
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 423496
    1999 Arcana 909
    1999 Arcana 16
    1999 Philips 432987
    1999 Agora Musica 186
    1999 Arts Music 47562
    1998 Decca
    1997 Vox 5173
    1997 Capriccio Records 10731
    1997 Dinemec DCCD015
    1997 Hungaroton 31588
    1997 Philips 454453
    1997 Opus 111 30148
    1997 Nimbus NI1766
    1996 Decca 448390
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 66127
    1996 Philips 446920
    1996 Walsingham 8013
    1995 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi / RCA 77421
    1995 Doron Music 3005
    1994 London 440307
    1994 Philips 442464
    1994 Philips 438483
    1994 Naxos 550730
    1993 Titanic 198
    1993 Denon Records 75446
    1989 Philips 422340
    1989 Philips 426 128-2PH7
    1987 London 417640
    Camerata Records 1047
    Accord 200862
    Eigenart 10180
    Accord 221032
    Astoria Productions 21005/6
    Pearl 9029
    Music & Arts 1070
    Brilliant Classics 99798/5
    Brilliant 92394/21
    Brilliant 93673/21
    Meridian Records 84201
    Denon Records 76865
    Erato
    Erato 91928
    Tudor Records 740
    Jecklin 4420
    Brilliant 93180/9