Piano Sonata in E Major Op. 109. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation by Heinrich Schenker, and: Piano Sonata in A flat Major Op. 110. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation by Heinrich Schenker, and: Piano Sonata in C Minor Op. 111. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation by Heinrich Schenker, and: Piano Sonata in A Major Op. 101. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation by Heinrich Schenker (review)
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Piano Sonata in E Major Op. 109. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation. By Heinrich Schenker; trans., ed., and annotated by John Rothgeb. pp. xiii + 89. (Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 2015. £32.99. ISBN 978-0-19-9914203.)
Piano Sonata in A flat Major Op. 110. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation. By Heinrich Schenker; trans., ed., and annotated by John Rothgeb. pp. xiii + 158. (Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 2015. £41.99. ISBN 978-019-991422-7.)
Piano Sonata in C Minor Op. 111. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation. By Heinrich Schenker; trans., ed., and annotated by John Rothgeb. pp. xiii + 152. (Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 2015. £41.99. ISBN 978-0-19-991424-1.)
Piano Sonata in A Major Op. 101. Beethoven's Last Piano Sonatas: An Edition with Elucidation. By Heinrich Schenker; trans., ed., and annotated by John Rothgeb. pp. xiii + 152. (Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 2015. £41.99. ISBN 978-0-19-991426-5.)

The work under review, a product of Schenker's middle age, consists of four slender volumes, first published by Universal-Edition of Vienna in 1913–15 (Opp. 109–11) and 1921 (Op. 101). A second, slightly abridged edition, also in four volumes, appeared in 1971–2. Schenker planned a fifth volume to cover Op. 106, but that sonata lacked a prerequisite for inclusion in the series: a surviving autograph. Schenker hoped the autograph would surface during his lifetime, but it never did. Nicholas Marston's Heinrich Schenker and Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier' Sonata (Farnham, 2013) discusses the situation and presents Schenker's previously unpublished analytical graphs of Op. 106, prepared during the mid-1920s.

The present translation, by John Rothgeb, completes the project of translating all of Schenker's book-length writings into English. Rothgeb has restored Schenker's full text, but his edition of the score is omitted (it is readily available elsewhere). It is a pity that these little volumes have had to wait so long for an English readership, because they present as multifaceted a view of these sonatas as Schenker ever offered for any musical work. As such, the volumes are highly recommended to those, especially pianists, who have always wondered about Schenker. My recommendation is to begin with Op. 110, to my mind the best among the first three volumes, all of which are accessible to any trained musician. Op. 101, which marks the debut of 'Schenkerian analysis' per se, asks more of the reader and should be read last.

The volumes on Opp. 109–11 belong with Schenker's slightly earlier monograph on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (1912) as works in which he sought to address a single composition more or less comprehensively while combatting what he regarded as encrustations of Romantic error—represented for the Ninth Symphony [End Page 661] primarily by Richard Wagner, for the sonatas by a series of commentators beginning with Anton Schindler and Adolf Bernhard Marx, and extending to Schenker's contemporaries. A chief difference between the Ninth Symphony volume and the present work is that, in the latter, Schenker was addressing music for his own instrument, the piano. His remarks on performance and musical texture, the latter his preoccupation during the 1910s, consequently have greater immediacy.

Schenker's aim in these 'explanatory editions' was to demonstrate what a complete musician (as Schenker regarded himself) could bring to the understanding of a musical masterwork. He combines in himself the roles of editor, scholar of compositional process (in the manner of Gustav Nottebohm), theorist, analyst, critic, and piano teacher. His advice to the pianist extends to details of tempo fluctuation, dynamic nuance, fingering, even tips for the practice room. Some passages, including some of the best, read almost like transcripts from a masterclass.

The balance between Schenker's various roles varies among the four volumes. Op. 109, written soon after he set aside the draft of a book on performance, is most interesting in its discussion of piano textures, but its analysis of the sonata itself is relatively conventional. Op. 110 strikes the best balance of any in...


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