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Published on Sep 9, 2011
Schubert - Grand Duo D.812 (Orchestrated by Joseph Joachim) - 2nd Movement
Schubert wrote his Sonata in C major, known as the Grand Duo, in June 1824. He had first been employed as music-master to the two daughters of Count Johann Karl Esterházy in 1818, when he spent the summer at the Count's estate at Zseliz in Hungary. It may be presumed that his connection with this branch of the Esterházy family continued in Vienna, and in the summer of 1824 he was again at Zseliz, treated, now that his pupils had reached maturity, on a more equal footing than before. In May he had heard the first performance of Beethoven's Choral Symphony in Vienna. The following month in Zseliz he turned his attention again to composition for piano duet. Much had happened since 1818, not least the illness that the year before had caused such anxiety, bringing fears of death. In a letter to his friend the painter Leopold Kupelwieser in Rome at the end of March he had confided his feelings and fears, but at the same time had expressed the intention of working towards a grand symphony through chamber music. Others, from Schumann onwards, have seen in the Grand Duo just such a grand symphony, needing nothing more than instrumentation to justify the name. Schumann, indeed, suspected that this was a piano duet arrangement of a symphony, and awaited the discovery of the original, hearing in it, perhaps, the veiled symphonies in sound that he had detected in the early work of Brahms. The Duo is written on a very substantial scale and contains reminiscences of Beethoven symphonies, perceived by Schumann particularly in the second movement and the finale, where he found connections with the second movement of Beethoven's Second Symphony and of the Symphony in A major in particular. Others have disagreed with Schumann, finding the Duo essentially a piano work. Nevertheless the great violinist Josef Joachim, friend of Schumann and of Brahms, had some weighty authority behind him when he orchestrated the work, however characteristic the instrumentation may be of a later age. Brahms himself included the arrangement in concerts given for the Vienna Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in the early 1870s. The Duo is in four movements, a sonata-form Allegro, a slow movement Andante, a lively enough Scherzo and a final Allegro vivace that again exhibits Schubert's capacity for heavenly length.
Performance by the Failoni Orchestra, conducted by Michael Halasz.