Franz Schubert

Sonata for arpeggione & piano in A minor ("Arpeggione Sonata"), D. 821

    Description by Blair Johnston

    The guitarre d'amour, or arpeggione as it came to be known, was invented sometime during 1823 or 1824 by the respected Viennese guitar maker Johann Georg Stauffer. The instrument -- a kind of enlarged guitar that could be bowed, cello-style, due to an altered fingerboard -- was by no means a success; within just a few years of its birth it had for all intents and purposes suffered extinction. To music lovers, however, this short-lived instrumental curiosity will be forever remembered as the vehicle for Franz Schubert's Sonata "per arpeggione" in A minor, D. 821 -- a work now played almost exclusively by violists and cellists, although it exists in arrangements for instruments as far afield as the euphonium.

    Schubert composed the "Arpeggione" Sonata in November 1824 shortly after returning from Zseliz, where he had spent his second summer (the first one being in 1818) teaching music to the Count of Esterházy's two daughters. The three-movement Sonata must be altered somewhat if it is to be played on cello or viola: the arpeggione possessed six strings, tuned to the same pitches as a guitar's, and the resulting extended range can cause problems when the piece is transcribed; in most editions, certain portions of the piece are transposed up or down an octave from their original position to avoid the extreme registers. However, Schubert by and large avoided the kind of idiosyncratic arpeggiations that earned the original instrument its nickname, focusing instead on the same focused lyricism that drives a traditional sonata for string instrument and piano; in this way, the work readily adapts to modern performance.

    The opening Allegro moderato is built around a wistful melody whose fame is such that many who have never heard or heard of the "Arpeggione" Sonata will find that they recognize the tune. A second theme proceeds in gentle gusts of sixteenth notes; the arpeggione could not play fast notes with much volume at all, and so the Sonata's quicker portions are almost always marked piano or pianissimo.

    The Adagio is a rich but introverted musing on an almost hymn-like subject. Schubert places great emphasis on the Neapolitan chord -- a harmony also used to great effect in the opening movement -- during the movement's closing measures, weakening the power of the final cadence and thus inviting the soloist to improvise a brief transition into the final, multi-sectioned Allegretto.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro moderato
    2. Adagio
    3. Allegretto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Menuetto Classics
    2018 ABC / ABC Classics
    2018 ABC Classics 4816751
    2018 Hyperion CDA 68227
    2018 Analekta AN 28787
    2018 ECM
    2018 ECM B002922402
    2018 Harmonia Mundi HMX 290892037
    2018 Deutsche Grammophon
    2018 BIS BIS 2375
    2018 Solo Musica SM 285
    2017 Arco Diva / ArcoDiva UP 0189
    2017 Hungaroton HCD 32767
    2017 Skarbo DSK 4176
    2017 Onyx ONYX 4183
    2017 Alpha 284
    2017 Decca
    2017 CTM Classics
    2016 Archiv Produktion 0002894795814
    2016 Azica Records ACD 71306
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795964
    2016 Warner Classics 558214
    2016 Warner Classics 558214
    2016 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186549
    2016 CAvi-music 8553245
    2016 Paladino Music PMR 0047
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795545
    2016 Alpha ALPHA 216
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88985321742
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music 309294
    2015 Meridian Records CDE 84631
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795096
    2015 Oehms Classics OC 1818
    2015 Analekta AN 29994
    2015 Naïve V 5387
    2015 Paladino Music PMR 0058
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002356
    2015 Chandos CHAN 108502
    2015 Brilliant Classics 95115BR
    2015 Meridian Records CDE 84630
    2015 Alto / Musical Concepts MCSCD 1294
    2015 Centaur Records CRC 3377
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794647
    2015 Sony Classics 513074
    2014 EMEC (Editorial de Musica Espanola) E 114
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon B001999902
    2014 Ancalagon ANCSACD 141
    2014 Erato 541223
    2014 Leonardo LDV 14016
    2014 Es-Dur ES 2018
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002187
    2014 Fontenay Classics FCI 005
    2013 Challenge Classics CC 72604
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 866
    2013 Naïve NC 40021
    2013 Erato 5099993415828
    2013 Aparte AP 069
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4790965
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Danacord DACOCD 724
    2012 Myrios Classics MYRSACD 8
    2012 Nimbus / Nimbus Alliance NI 6210
    2012 Sony Classical 88725463952
    2012 Decca
    2012 Decca 4783577
    2012 Blue Griffin Recording BGR 243
    2012 Camerata Records CMCD 28233
    2012 Andromeda ANDRCD 9109
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 Orfeo 822101
    2011 Archipel ARPCD0523
    2011 Genuin GEN10193
    2011 Divox CDX 552572
    2011 Solo Musica SM 143
    2011 Chandos CHAN 10703
    2011 Centaur Records CRC 3128
    2011 Naxos 8572187
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 4782746
    2011 BIS BISSACD 1843
    2011 Naim 104
    2011 Naim 24
    2011 EtCetera Records KTC 1431
    2011 HandM hmr 02110118
    2011 Aeon 1095
    2011 Bridge 9376AB
    2011 Biddulph Recordings 80250
    2011 Fuga Libera FUG584
    2011 Newton Classics 8802087
    2011 Finlandia
    2011 Alicia Ward
    2011 Orchid Classics ORC100016
    2010 Jason Byrnes
    2010 Egea 148
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 509996886272
    2010 Gega 346
    2010 Naïve V 5219
    2010 Pavane 7530
    2010 Decca
    2009 Sony Classical 752307
    2009 Meridian Records 84566
    2009 Sony Classical 88697386212
    2009 Sony Classical 88697563992
    2009 Prima La Musica / Zebralution
    2009 Gramola 98858
    2009 Onyx ONYX 4046
    2008 Berlin Classics 0012842BC
    2008 Ars Produktion 38028
    2008 Naïve V 5152
    2008 Antes Edition / Zebralution
    2008 Fuga Libera 529
    2008 Gramola 98851
    2007 Avie 2112
    2007 Warner Classics 4699675
    2007 Opus KURA 2069
    2007 Tacet 143
    2007 Naïve 5128
    2007 Doremi Records 7883
    2007 Decca 000894602
    2007 Oehms Classics 591
    2007 Sony Classical Essential Classics 709944
    2007 Scandinavian Classics 220543
    2007 EMI Music Distribution 385853
    2007 Challenge Records 72165
    2006 Cavalli 242
    2006 Divine Art 25039
    2006 Harmonia Mundi 901930
    2005 Edition HERA 2102
    2005 Naïve V 5021
    2004 RCA 55273
    2004 Rca Red Seal 55270
    2004 Antes Edition BM 319194
    2004 Sony Classical 92765
    2004 ArtistLed 10401-2
    2004 Harmonia Mundi 1951383
    2004 Oxingale Records 1497
    2003 Delos 3324
    2003 Haenssler 98464
    2003 Preiser Records 90541
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 471568
    2002 Koch 7568
    2002 Harmonia Mundi HMA195 1035
    2001 Arsis 94001
    2001 Sony Classical 89749
    2001 Tuxedo Music 1205
    2001 Iron Needle 1424
    2001 Black Box Classics 1007
    2001 Boston Records 1039
    2001 Boston Records 1018
    2000 Claves 509705
    2000 Summit Records 276
    2000 Eroica Distribution 3036
    2000 Decca 466748
    1999 Fono Enterprise 99328
    1999 Sony Classical SK63385
    1999 Titanic 255
    1999 Fono Enterprise 99344
    1999 Arsis 98038
    1999 Collins Records 13472
    1999 Decca 460974
    1999 Valois 4717
    1999 ASV/Living Era 6232
    1999 Classico 232
    1999 Koch Discover International DICD920538
    1999 Agora Musica 171
    1998 Naxos 554356
    1998 Berlin Classics 0011 792BC
    1998 Sony Music Distribution 63361
    1998 Pearl 0039
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 667-2GFS
    1997 NPR Recordings 3/4
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 697082
    1997 Arte Nova 27759
    1997 Harmonia Mundi 290882
    1997 Vox 3042
    1997 Teldec 13151
    1997 Harmonia Mundi 1901383
    1996 Pearl 9198
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 449817
    1996 Channel Productions 9696
    1996 Sony Music Distribution SK61964
    1996 Camerata Records 25CM14
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 290847
    1996 A Classical Record 39
    1995 Gallo 509
    1995 Saydisc 379
    1995 Signum UK 5600
    1994 Naxos 550654
    1994 Denon Records 75636
    1993 Kontrapunkt 32024
    1993 Music & Arts 780
    1993 Crystal Records Dist. 635
    1992 Vox 5502
    1992 Chandos 8664
    1992 Chandos 8506
    1992 BIS 521/24
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 48171
    1992 Harmonia Mundi 901035
    1991 Bayer Records BR 100068/9
    1990 RCA 60112
    1985 Philips 412230
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 47
    Divox 25202
    Bayer Records 100067
    Cantilena Records
    Classic Edition 5
    Pearl 9442
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 2021
    Canal Grande 9325
    Ashmont Records 7102
    Monopoly 2051
    SNE 580
    Catalpa Classics
    RCA 7845
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 77396
    BIS 521
    Calig 50949
    Ars Produktion 368316
    La Follia Madrigal 501
    Chambermusik 52523
    RCA 7962
    Carriere Classics 11
    Carriere Classics 16
    Pickwick 1135
    Oxingale Records 2002
    MDG 3197
    JOD Classics 103