Amazon Vehicles Beauty Trade in your textbooks STEM nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Limited time offer Wickedly Prime Handmade Wedding Shop Home Gift Guide Father's Day Gifts Home Gift Guide Book House Cleaning Moonlight Moonlight Moonlight  Introducing Echo Show All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, starting at $129.99 Kindle Oasis GNO Spring Savings Event on Ellen
Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

Listening Group Selection #31: Schubert - Piano Sonata in A, D.664

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-13 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 16, 2012, 3:44:43 AM PST
carnola says:
As we near our Thanksgiving celebration in the US, I am thankful for many things including the music of Franz Schubert. I've picked his "little" A major sonata, composed in 1819 and dedicated to Josephine von Koller, whom Schubert considered very pretty--which may be used to describe the sonata itself. Grace and beauty abound in this little gem. I suspect many of you have a recording or two of this sonata (I've got Lupu, Uchida, and Kempff). It's great music to unwind with at the end of a day with a short, but moving slow movement. Enjoy!

Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, D. 664 (also given as #13 or Op. 120)
I. Allegro moderato
II. Andante
III. Allegro

Ingrid Haebler and Wilhelm Kempff playlists

Andras Schiff

A public domain recording by Paul Pitman is available here. Maybe not up to the level of the best, but the site does provide the score:,_D.664_(Schubert,_Franz)

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 9:56:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012, 12:53:03 PM PST
Edgar Self says:
My first recording was by Myra Hess's, affectionate and what is now called old'fashioned. Then came Lili Kraus and Wilhelm Kempff; I like them both. <aybe Richter, must check. Paul Lewis doesn't seem to have recorded it yet in his ongooing series for Harmonia Mundi, and it's not one I've seen him play. I'll look forward to that when it comes out.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 10:15:43 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012, 12:19:51 PM PST
Mandryka says:
carnola's description is real interesting. For a long time I saw the sonata exactly like she does and for a long time that made me really not hold it in very high esteem. I just thought of it as classy music to unwind to.

But then I found a recorded performance which made me see that in fact Schubert had written a great sonata, that the music was emotionally complex and rather challenging and certainly not soothing or beautiful or graceful. It's just the pianists who had reduced it to something trivial. That performance was from Eduard Erdmann.

Other good performances are from Virssaladze and Bashkirov --especially Bashkirov. But Erdmann is the one to track down if you can.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 11:09:14 AM PST
HB says:
One of my favorite piano sonatas. It is somewhat similar to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata with an opening slow movement. I have two recordings and both are excellent: Walter Klein and Richter.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 11:14:08 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012, 3:57:53 PM PST
Lark says:
Loved the Haebler on a sonata that seems quintessentially Schubertian to my ears. There's just no one like him. Here's the moving lyricism and depth of feeling combined, the result of his gentle sweetness of nature and beautiful melodic genius with a bit of thunder thrown in during the louder passages. But the sweetness can border on the cloying if one does not maintain a certain restraint as well, and I feel that Schiff goes over the line for a brief instant and the more turbulent passages border on being too turbulent and played more like Beethoven than Schubert.

I know the composer held Beethoven in extremely high regard - perhaps drawing unfavorable comparisons to himself, but I don't want to be reminded of Beethoven when I'm listening to Schubert, and certain pianists do this. It sounds like a knock on Schiff though I realize he's a world-class musician, but I think that he doesn't always know the right measure of emotion to bring out in certain works - he sounds uncertain or confused along very subtle but noticeable lines. He seems to want to indulge his emotions gushingly and give into them, or he tries to keep them out too much, as in some of his later TWC recordings of book 1.

The Haebler is more classically styled and seems to have the right amount of emotional restraint and passion the keeps Schubert sounding like himself rather than you-know-who, an important distinction I appreciate in Schubert recordings... this beloved composer who suffered such a wretched end and yet left so much beauty behind in his few short years. Thanks for posting the Sonata. Larks ♬

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012, 1:57:50 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2012, 2:00:26 PM PST
carnola says:
Uh, Mandryka, I'm a he (I think!). "carnola" is a result of having too many collisions on user names with my real name (Arnold). The simple expedient of switching the final "d" to an "a" resolved that.

Interesting comments--I'll try to find that performance.


Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 2:43:33 PM PST
MacDoom says:
There is disarming simplicity in this music, which I have not heard done better than by Brendel at his most lyrical. It was one of two sonatas on a rather badly filled CD when CDs where still very young (recorded 1982). Brendel is unrushed, unmannered, completely relaxed and at one with the music - the high point of his Schubert recording legacy for me.
Schubert: Piano Sonatas D. 537 & 664
This is not the one I imprinted on - that was Paul Crossley, who was also excellent, but as I recorded that off air, there were rather severe sound issues.

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 4:39:07 PM PST
scarecrow says:
Yeah Walter Klein, Sviatoslav Richter,Wilhelm Kempf, lots of inspired readings. . .Maurizio Pollini

Posted on Nov 16, 2012, 6:32:18 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013, 10:11:36 AM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 16, 2012, 6:41:05 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013, 10:11:36 AM PST]

Posted on Nov 17, 2012, 1:15:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2012, 3:21:33 AM PST
Skaynan says:
Thanks Carnola! You just shown me how "psychology" is a big factor in my perception of music: I know this sonata for years, and I always thought of it as something of a "filler". Now that you picked it for the listening group I have listened to the 4 recordings of it that I have (Uchida, Brendel, Schiff, Kempff; listening intently for the group selection my favorite in this sonata is Kempff), and after reading everyone's comments I listened to it differently, with "new ears" sort of speak. And you know what? It is (almost) on par with the "greater" piano sonatas (958-960). But I only realizing it now, after everyone here said it's great. Psychology, again. Thanks Carnola!

Posted on Nov 17, 2012, 9:02:46 AM PST
Edgar Self says:
Especially beautiful song-like andante. I just heard Lili Kraus's recording again. A good choice. Schubert's sonatas changed very much over his short life, and became completely transformed by the last three.

Posted on Nov 17, 2012, 9:22:20 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 17, 2012, 9:23:23 AM PST
I have 2 versions of this one; Christian Zacharias and Andre Watts(!). You don't hear much about Andre these days. I acquired that many years ago from Berkshire. I was never that happy with it although it certainly isn't bad.

Recently the Zacharias was available at a great bargain. It is part of a 5 CD set featuring 11 Schubert sonatas. D664 is the first sonata on the first disc and since there are 3 eariier sonatas in the set, the conclusion is that this one was picked to be first for a reason. It certainly is an accessible work, possibly Schubert's most easily lyrical and "singable" opening idea. The sonata has a very logical musical argument and each line follows the preceeding line in a most natural manner.

This work isn't without a few moments when clouds pass but those moments are generally brief. I hear some connections between this work and the far more complex last two sonatas. D960 has a similar lilt to the opening idea although it is developed in a much slower time element. Also heard for the first time is one of those episodes where cascading scales appear suddenly although in D664 this is very brief. It is interesting to hear this in an early work because it shows the idea was gestating in Schubert's mind many years before he penned those last two great sonatas.

The 2nd movement is very lyrical and unhurried. Some of Schubert's rich chording is heard and something I never noticed before is a bit of mixing of methods where the model seems to be Mozartian at one moment but then Schubert seems to reassert his own style. It almost could be characterized as the composer trying to break free and realize his own voice while simultaneously honoring his predecessors.

The Finale seems all Schubertian to me. The easy lyricism and active bass lines, running scales, octaves - all hallmarks of Schubert's own voice. I love the fluidity of harmony in this movement. Schubert is beginning to master his vision of the mutability of tonality that exists with common tone modulation, free him to take oblique harmonic turns that tickle the ear.

This is perhaps Schubert's first totally masterful sonata although such a thing is hard to pin down and opinions will always vary on this. One thing is certain, this is a beautiful work and clearly Schubert's voice is emerging in a strong assertive manner. This likely will always be popular with listeners and I imagine it will be in the repertoire as long as we appreciate beauty and proportion.

Very enjoyable pick carnola!
‹ Previous 1 Next ›
[Add comment]
Add your own message to the discussion
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Prompts for sign-in

Recent discussions in the Classical Music forum


This discussion

Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  13
Initial post:  Nov 16, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 17, 2012

New! Receive e-mail when new posts are made.