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Sonata for piano four hands No. 1 in E minor, Op. 7 (George Onslow)




Allegro espressivo – Romance – Finale


“Duo”, “Grand duo”, “Sonate”, “Grande Sonate”... Throughout the course of some twenty published versions up to the end of the nineteenth century, this work was to appear under many titles, a sign of the difficultly found in trying to pinpoint its genre. Dedicated by Onslow “to his friend Camille Pleyel”, the famous piano maker, it would go on to become one of Onslow’s most performed pieces (including by Liszt, Hiller, Chopin and Gottschalk). This Première Grande Sonate owes its success particularly to a form of pianistic writing which offers no undue advantage to one part over the other, as well as to very lively harmonic discourse. Composed in 1811, it comes close perhaps to the scores which Schubert was starting to write for piano four hands in this period – quite a popular scoring, moreover. Some triplets propel the Allegro espressivo forward. With its troubled calls, its first subject is not lacking in tragic grandeur; in contrast, the second is calmer. The development section is largely based on the first subject, before the recapitulation. The Romance, later included in the Fourth Symphony and the Second Piano Quintet, introduces a good-natured vocally-inspired melody, accompanied by arpeggios. A contrast is provided in the central section with a mood of anxiety. Following the repeat of the Romance, echoes from the central section can be heard. As with the first movement, the Finale Agitato adopts a standard double-subject sonata form structure. It sets out at a fast pace as a toccata punctuated with chords struck with force. The second subject is presented Leggieramente and in the major key. The recapitulation appears after a short development section devoted to the first subject.

    Person - 1
  • ONSLOW, George (1784-1853)
  • Theme - 1
  • Piano – À quatre mains