Franz Schubert

Piano Sonata No. 16 in A minor, D. 845 (Op. 42)

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Only three of Franz Schubert's completed piano sonatas were published during his lifetime: the G major work of 1826 (D. 894) and the two sonatas composed during the spring and summer of 1825, D. 850 in D major and the Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845, sometimes called No. 16. The A minor Sonata was the first of the three to pass through a printing press, in early 1826, and the effect of its publication was quick and pronounced. Through the mid-1820s, Schubert had been known almost exclusively as a composer of lieder since those were by and large the only pieces of his that publishers cared to purchase. With the release of the A minor Piano Sonata, D. 845 Schubert was suddenly the darling of many critics, and some of his fellow musicians began to think of casting him in the unenviable role of Beethoven's successor.

    The Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845 stands as far from the sonatas composed during Schubert's teenage years as one might imagine. Something of the terse, granite-faced quality of the previous A minor Sonata (D. 784 of 1823) is present in the opening movement, Moderato, of D. 845, but now there is also a hint of the starry-eyed otherworldliness -- an absolute disdain for reality -- that mark the final sonatas of 1828 as things truly special. The limber main theme is given right at the start in bare octaves; the second theme, presented in part before we have even arrived at the second theme key area, is really a new spin on the opening idea. Throughout the development section and, later on, the lengthy coda to the movement, the music of the opening bars reappears at length.

    The following movement, Andante poco moto, is an ingenious and technically demanding set of variations (five in all) on a theme. The Scherzo (Allegro vivace) contrasts a squat, rhythmic opening with a trio section that, while retaining the same basic metric framework, remolds it into a spinning pianissimo. The finale (Allegro vivace) is a rondo built around a lean main idea; there is no contrasting lyric material, only music that either scampers around or asserts itself with dramatic forzandos.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Moderato
    2. Andante poco moto
    3. Scherzo & Trio. Allegro vivace - Un poco piu lento
    4. Rondo. Allegro vivace

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Nimbus Records NI 8820
    2017 Melodiya MELCD 1002504
    2017 Hänssler Classic HC 16062
    2017 EaSonus EAS 29300
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797371
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796187
    2016 Aparte AP 133
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795545
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002288
    2015 Decca 4811437
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4792783
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Dux Records DUX 0930
    2014 Erato 2564624223
    2013 Hänssler Classic CD 93720
    2013 Wergo WER 40432
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4778107
    2013 Decca
    2012 Praga Digitals PRDDSD 350067
    2012 Regis Records RRC 1390
    2012 Harmonia Mundi HMC 90213637
    2012 Piano Classics PCL 0034
    2012 Capriccio Records C 7125
    2012 Berlin Classics 0300302BC
    2011 K&K Verlagsanstalt / KuK KuK 91
    2011 Elite Special / Zebralution
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 4783018
    2011 Decca 4782622
    2011 Documents 233080
    2011 Paladino Music PMR0009
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca 4782340
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca
    2010 Haenssler 98520
    2009 Newport Classics 60176/2
    2009 Ondine 734
    2009 Transart Live 130
    2009 Arcana 409
    2009 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2009 Brilliant Classics 92770
    2009 IDIS 6584
    2009 Appian 5669
    2009 Naxos 8.572341
    2008 Brilliant 93673
    2008 Berlin Classics 184482
    2008 EtCetera Records 1332
    2007 Gramola 98808
    2007 Urania 4256
    2007 EMI Music Distribution 385853
    2007 Scandinavian Classics 220548
    2006 Nimbus 1732
    2006 Cybele 40402
    2006 Brilliant Classics 99798
    2006 Harmonia Mundi 2908201
    2005 Andante 2110
    2005 Decca
    2005 Decca 000567802
    2004 Acon / Aeon 0421
    2004 Philips 000410402
    2004 Vanguard Classics 1492
    2004 Arts Music 47607
    2004 Apex / Elatus 4613012
    2004 Brilliant 92394
    2003 Amadeo 4728322
    2002 Naxos 553099
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 4636762
    2001 Musicians Showcase 1033
    2001 Tudor Records 741/43
    2001 Loft Recordings 1040
    2000 Analekta 24011-7
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463766
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 423496
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 Philips 462596
    1999 Arcana 909
    1999 Arcana 14
    1999 Philips 456865
    1998 Hungaroton 31589
    1997 Vox 5173
    1997 Dinemec DCCD015
    1997 Channel Classics CCS10697
    1996 Melodiya 29460
    1996 Eigenart 10090
    1996 Decca 448390
    1996 Capriccio Records 10707
    1996 Teldec 11084
    1996 Novalis 150123
    1996 Philips 446920
    1995 Vanguard 8200
    1995 Melodiya 29463
    1994 Monitor 72027
    1993 London 440305
    1993 Nonesuch 79271
    1989 Philips 422075
    1989 Philips 426 128-2PH7
    1987 London 417640
    1987 Deutsche Grammophon 419672
    Music & Arts 542
    Denon Records 73787
    Accord 200862
    Accord 220542
    RCD 16320
    BBC Music / Select 2156
    Ondine 734
    IMP Masters 20
    Meridian Records 84202
    Brilliant Classics 99798/7
    Brilliant 92394/23
    Brilliant 93673/23
    Teldec
    Vanguard 8098
    Town Hall 69
    Harmonia Mundi 901723
    Tudor Records 740