As promised, here is the playlist of some of my favorite piano sonatas. You might notice something of a bias toward Beethoven, that’s not really intentional, he just happened to have written some of the best piano sonatas of all time (I’m not really biased in any way) 😉
Try not to feel overwhelmed by this long playlist, these are just recommendations for you to check out from various composers, there will be no test later on. We’re focusing on the first movements mostly, since they usually follow sonata form. I have included the times of the exposition, development, and recapitulation for the less complicated sonatas, if you are nerdy enough to want to know where they are. See the last post for an explanation of the parts of a piano sonata.
Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 2 No. 1- This is early Beethoven (only his 2nd opus), so he follows the rules more closely than his later stuff. He liked to put introductions before the first theme is presented in his later sonatas, as you will see in the next one. You can hear the separations of the parts more clearly like in the Mozart Sonata we looked at last time.
Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 13 – Here Beethoven starts with an introduction before presenting the first theme, and uses it in the development and recapitulation.
Exposition: 2:05 Beethoven presents 3 themes instead of the usual two (rebel)
Development: 5:35- Beethoven uses material from the introduction to start the development
Recapitulation: 7:12-9:42 At 8:44, it stops to use material from the introduction before coming to a dramatic ending.
Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 57 “Appassionata”– In this sonata it is harder to find the three sections than the last two.
Recapitulation: 4:53 (movement ends at 9:24)
After the slow middle movement (in which he does a series of variations), he wakes everyone up with dissonant chords to start the super fast finale (15:59) which is also one of my favorites.
Schubert’s Piano Sonata D. 960- This is Schubert’s last piano sonata, written around the same time as Beethoven’s sonatas. Richter plays a slower interpretation than is usually played, but I like how it changes the mood. We’ll focus on the first movement:
Exposition: 00:00 – (this repeats after about 6 minutes)
Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2- We now go to the Romantic period. This is the one with the famous “Funeral March” (in the third movement). The still follows sonata form, but it’s harder to follow than the previous sonatas, you don’t hear where it stops and starts again easily like Beethoven’s first sonata. My favorite movements are the first two.
Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor- Liszt did something unconventional here in making a piano sonata that consists of one movement. It does, however, follow the fast slow fast model of the three movement piano sonatas, yet within the framework of one piece.
Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata Op. 1 No. 1- Another single movement piano sonata, though not quite as long. This is very early 21st century, from 1909, so it’s not quite as dissonant as some later 21st century stuff where it sounds like someone is playing random notes on the piano.