Sonate op.22, G minor 
composed 1830-1838 - dedicated to Mrs. Henriette Voigt geb. Kunze 

So rasch wie möglich
Andantino, Getragen
Scherzo, Sehr rasch und markirt
Rondo, Presto 

Presto, Passionato o.op. (original final from the sonata op.22)

The compositional process of the Second Sonata in G minor lasted from 1830 to 1835, but was then extended to 1838 as Schumann composed an additional Finale (influenced partially by Clara’s critique, who considered the original Finale too difficult, but perhaps also because it so closely resembled that of the Sonata in F minor). The Sonata in G minor, op. 22, is the shortest and most transparent (apart from the original Finale Presto, without opus number) of his three sonatas. It employs a motif of a descending fourth, similar to the “Premonition of Suffering” in the later op. 124. The Sonata in G minor makes a slenderer impression than the weighty Sonata in F minor. The crystalline architecture of the movements allows Schumann’s sense of urgency full expression, a mood that culminates in both sonatas in the first movement and in the coda of the Finale. Modulations are progressively more distant, and accompanying voices sometimes drop out altogether, leaving one with the impression of  overflowing enthusiasm. “Now I could wish only for the Sonata to be published, so that the world could see to whom it is dedicated for old time’s sake. If the public consisted only of Eleanores, I would know whose works were so impetuously printed and played. But of such there are only a few,” wrote Schumann to Henriette Voigt in 1839, to whom the work is dedicated. She, a devoted musical amateur, was a champion of Schumann’s works. To Clara he wrote, “it would be for the best were you to play the Sonata in G minor, because it really possesses a distinctive character.” Of the much-cited tempo marking for the first movement “as fast as possible,” he wrote Clara, “It occurs to me that you should not take the opening of my Sonata too quickly; certainly not as quickly as we have done. Would you do that to please me?” The implication is that the tempo is only to be taken as fast as expression of the motif allows (in an earlier sketch of the work, Schumann even labelled the theme “Andante”). In the second movement, he returns to the Lied “Im Herbst” (“In Autumn”) from the year 1828, whose main theme ends with a descending fourth, which is answered at the end of this movement with a quiet rising call as if from a distance. After a short Scherzo, which strictly adheres to the normal rules of metrical accentuation, comes the Finale that was changed according to Clara’s wishes, and of which he wrote pithily, “it is very simple, but fits well with the first.”  When compared to the original Finale, the composer’s logic is confirmed. This second finale was written in 1838, a time of relative peace and quiet when he was certain of Clara’s affections.

The Presto passionato, the original finale, evokes the most disparate sounds from the piano. The rhythmic alternation between two and three is woven into the theme, and adds to the sense of tension. Modulations are also more daring than in the rest of the Sonata in G minor.

Translation: William Melton
© Franz Vorraber