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Music Talks > 2015 Spring

Music Club: Wednesday 13 May 2015 (7 pm)

Title:               Piano Sonata in E flat D960
Composer:    Franz Schuber
Performers:   Emile Naoumoff (Piano)
Facilitator:     Akram Najjar
The D960 Sonata (adapted from Wikipedia Click Here)
Schubert's last three piano sonatas, D958, D959 and D960, are the composer's last major compositions for the piano. They were written during the last 2 months of his life, between the spring and autumn of 1828. During that time, Schubert knew that he was dying and that his days were numbered, yet, he wrote 3 of the most lyrical and beautiful sonatas in the repertoire. The sonatas were not published until about 10 years after his death. Like the rest of Schubert's piano sonatas, they were mostly neglected in the 19th century. By the late 20th century, public and critical opinion had changed, and Schubert's last sonatas are now considered amongst the most important of the composer's mature masterpieces. They are part of the core piano repertoire, appearing regularly on concert programs and recordings.
One of the reasons for the long period of neglect of Schubert's piano sonatas seems to be their dismissal as structurally and dramatically inferior to the sonatas of Beethoven. In fact, the last sonatas contain distinct allusions and similarities to works by Beethoven, a composer Schubert venerated. However, musicological analysis has shown that they maintain a mature, individual style. Schubert's last sonatas are now praised for their mature style, manifested in unique features such as a cyclical formal and tonal design, chamber music textures, and a rare depth of emotional expression.
The three sonatas are cyclically interconnected by diverse structural, harmonic and melodic elements tying together all movements in each sonata, as well as all three sonatas together. Consequently, they are often regarded as a trilogy. They also contain specific allusions and similarities to other Schubert compositions, such as his Winterreise song cycle; these connections point to turbulent emotions expressed in the sonatas, often understood as highly personal and autobiographical.[9] Indeed, some researchers have suggested specific psychological narratives for the sonatas, based on historical evidence concerning the composer's life.
Schubert's last sonata D960 is by common consent, his greatest achievement in the form and one of the finest contributions to the long series of classical sonatas. It has a feeling of tranquility and ease - the ease of a master who has all the technical facility at his fingertips with which to express his ideas and emotions. It has 4 movements that echo themes from one another and that are written in stark contrast to one another.
Interesting Links about the D960 Sonata
Click Here (Franz Peter Schubert site)
Click Here (The Telegraph)
Click Here (BBC Discovering Music – Audio clip analysis of the Sonata)
Click Here (Kohobeat)

Emile Naoumoff 
Click Here (Wikipedia)
Click Here (Official website)

Emile Naoumoff (born February 20, 1962 in Sofia, Bulgaria) is a French pianist and composer and revealed himself a musical prodigy at age five, taking up study of the piano and adding composition to his studies a year later. At the age of eight, after a fateful meeting in Paris, he became the last disciple of Nadia Boulanger, who referred to him as "the gift of my old age". He studied with her until her death in late 1979. Boulanger gave him the opportunity to work with Clifford Curzon, Igor Markevitch, Robert and Gaby Casadesus, Nikita Magaloff, Jean Françaix, Leonard Bernstein, Soulima Stravinsky, Aram Khachaturian and Yehudi Menuhin. Lord Menuhin conducted the premiere of Naoumoff's first Piano Concerto, with the composer as a soloist when he was ten years old. He pursued studies at the Paris Conservatory with Lelia Gousseau, Pierre Sancan, Geneviève Joy-Dutilleux, as well as at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris with Pierre Dervaux (conducting). In 1981, at age 19, he was signed as a composer with the music publisher Schott, Mainz. He was the youngest on their roster. 

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