Cello sonata, take 5

Not a lot of time to work tonight, but I thought I would at least pull out the first 36 measures and copy them into a new file, which I’ve named i. moderato_B_recapitulation.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the quick and dirty explanation. (For those who do, you can skip to the break.)

A sonata is generally a three-movement work for solo instrument and accompaniment. The first movement of a sonata is usually in what is called sonata allegro form, and this is what it looks like:

(You can clink on the image to go to a ThinkQuest project that explains sonata allegro form in terms of the symphony, which is a four-movement sonata for an orchestra.)

My principal theme (also called the first theme or the A theme) is the big, swashbuckling opening theme. Loud, violent, in A minor, mm. 1-16.

There is a bridge passage, the settling down to F major, mm. 16-20. My second subject (or B theme) is the beautiful little tune from mm. 21-36. It is a perfect contrast to the principal theme, both in character and in tonality. Usually the second theme is in the dominant key from the principal theme, and the reverse tonality. In other words, if the piece were in C minor (like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony), that means the principal theme is in C minor, and the second theme is in G major. Here, my second theme, as I mentioned earlier, is in F major when perhaps it “should” be in E major.

However, there aren’t really any “shoulds” in sonata form, something I wish someone had told me before I started listening to symphonies and concertos and sonatas trying to pick out this exact, pedantic structure. Not many works adhere to it precisely.

Mine certainly doesn’t. For example, there is no “closing section” between the second theme and the development. There’s not even a cadence. It just bleeds directly into E major (finally) and we start playing with the two themes right away.

All of this is to say that I copied the first 36 measures, my exposition, into a new file. The recapitulation of a piece is usually a more-or-less exact repeat of the opening, except that the second theme is held to the original key. In my case, I transposed it up to A major.

And here’s the strange thing. It is a totally different thing. Even if I play just the second theme without the new bridge passage to get us from A minor to A major, you can tell it’s not the same. It’s not as full and warm, for one thing. It’s higher and tinklier and not as expansive. I may have to think about this. The main determinant will be how I think the movement needs to end. I may choose another key, or I may choose to rejigger the whole theme so that it sounds completely new and wonderful before tying into some kind of end.

At the moment, I’m leaning towards a quiet, gently moving end.

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