Piano Sonata in C major, D. 840 (Schubert)
Franz Schubert's Piano Sonata in C major, D. 840, nicknamed Reliquie upon its first publication in 1861 in the mistaken belief that it had been Schubert's last work, was written in April 1825, whilst the composer was also working on the A minor sonata, D. 845 in tandem. Schubert abandoned the sonata, and only the first two movements of the sonata were fully completed, with the trio section of the third movement also written in full. The minuet section of the third movement is incomplete and contains unusual harmonic changes, which suggests it was there Schubert had become disillusioned and abandoned the movement and later the sonata. The final fourth movement is also incomplete, ending abruptly after 270 bars.
The fragments of the sonata survived in Schubert's manuscripts, and later the work was collected and published in its incomplete form in 1861.
III. Menuetto: Allegretto - Trio
A-flat major. Fragment (ends at measure 80 after the main theme returns in the B part of the menuetto)
IV. Rondo: Allegro
C major. Fragment (ends 32 measures after the development starts)
Even in this truncated form, the sonata lasts approximately 25 to 30 minutes in performance.
Ernst Krenek outlined the structure of each of the work's four movements in notes that he contributed to a recording by Ray Lev in 1947. Krenek elaborates on how he composed a completion, included in the recording, for the unfinished movements. According to Krenek:
- The first movement introduces "the energetically pulsating rhythm which runs nearly through the entire piece." Unusually, the second theme is initially in B minor, not the expected dominant of G major, which appears only toward the end of the exposition. The development likewise stresses B minor until a false recapitulation in another unexpected key, B major; the actual recapitulation follows closely in F major, and C major finally makes its return with a forte restatement of the first theme. "The second theme now appears in A minor, and the coda turns to A flat, a key that was touched upon early in the beginning of the movement, so that the key scheme of the whole is rounded out with admirable logic."
- The second movement is in five-part rondo form, "curiously animated by relentless drive." Its first theme, in C minor, incorporates downward skips in sevenths; running sixteenth notes and dramatic accents characterize its second, in A-flat major. The running sixteenths continue as the first theme returns, succeeded by a repeat of the second theme in C major and a final, quiet statement of the first theme to complete the movement.
- The fragmentary third movement rapidly modulates from A-flat to A major shortly after its beginning, "a very unusual move," at which point Schubert ceased composition. Krenek speculates that Schubert may have intended to complete the movement "with a recapitulation symmetrically returning from A to A-flat major shortly before the end." In his completion, Krenek "wrote a brief development section, re-introduced the theme in A and returned to A-flat, adding a few measures of transition to A-flat minor, which is the key of the trio, an exceptionally charming lyrical item."
- Schubert completed the first and second themes of the exposition and introduced a third theme in A minor, derived from the first, to open the development before leaving off work on this movement in rondo-sonata form. Krenek indicates his completion elaborated the idea of the third theme and "followed it up with a swiftly modulating development of the first theme and a normal recapitulation" of slightly shorter length than the exposition. His coda takes the third theme as its basis and refers back to the first theme of the first movement, "an idea to which I felt entitled since Schubert had hinted at it at the end of the finale of the Sonata in A major."
Given its large scope and the extent of material that Schubert left for the incomplete movements, this sonata has inspired various composers and performers to undertake completions. Some of their efforts, particularly those penned by performers, have appeared on records. Among them are the following:
- Paul Badura-Skoda wrote and recorded a completion in 1997.
- Bart Berman wrote a completion in 1978; the Dutch Erasmus label released his recording of it in 1997.
- Anthony Goldstone wrote and recorded a completion in 2003.
- Ernst Krenek wrote his completion, mentioned above, at the request of his friend, the pianist and composer Eduard Erdmann, who wished to add the sonata to his repertoire. Krenek himself dated that request to 1922; other sources date his completion to 1921. Regardless, the work has appeared at least twice in that form on record: once in the aforementioned performance by Ray Lev on a set of 78 RPM disks issued by the American Concert Hall Society label and once performed by Friedrich Wührer on a monaural LP issued by American Vox Records. Neither recording has achieved official reissue on compact disc, although Bearac Reissues has released the Wührer performance on a CD copied from an LP.
- Ian Munro wrote a completion in 1994 and recorded it for the Australian Tall Poppies label.
- Brian Newbould wrote a completion recorded by Todd Crow, its dedicatee, for release on compact disc by the Toccata Classics label.
- Willi Rehberg wrote a completion in 1927.
- Ludwig Stark wrote a completion in 1877.
- Martino Tirimo wrote a completion and included it in his complete set of the sonatas on EMI.
- Satz, 2003.
- Lev, Ray (1947). Franz Schubert — Piano Sonata no. 15 in C Major (Unfinished); Allegretto in C Minor — Ray Lev, Pianist (78 RPM). United States: Concert Hall Society. Release B3.
- Benson, 2008. p.36
- Berman, 2002.
- Tall Poppies Catalog, TP079
- Newbould, 2007, p.3-6
- Standford, 2008.
- Benson, 2008. p.V
- Benson, 2008. p.35
- Hedley, 2003.
- Deutsch, Otto Erich (1995). Schubert Thematic Catalogue. Courier Dover Publications.
- Benson, Michael Lewis (2008). A Comparative Study on the Published Completions of the Unfinished Movements in Franz Schubert’s Sonata in C Major, D. 840 (“Reliquie”) (D.Mus.A). Austin: The University of Texas. Retrieved January 2013.
- "Schubert's Unfinished Vol. 1 (TP079)". Retrieved January 2013.
- Berman, Bart (2002). "Notes on Franz Schubert - The Unfinished Piano Sonatas". Retrieved January 2013.
- Hedley, William (May 2003). "Review of Naxos CD 8.554470 (Schubert Piano Sonatas Nos. 15 (Reliquie) and 20), performed by Jenö Jandö". Musicweb. Retrieved January 2013.
- Satz, Don (November 2003). "Review of Anthony Goldstone's Schubert Sonata cycle, volume 3 (DIVINE ART 2-1204)". Musicweb. Retrieved January 2013.
- Newbould, Brian (2007). "Liner Notes, Schubert & his Circle, TOCC0065". Toccata Classics. Retrieved January 2013.
- Standford, Patric (January 2008). "A Superb Performance - Music by Schubert and his circle". Record Box. Retrieved January 2013.
- Piano Sonata D. 840: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- "Jerusalem Music Center - JMC Live Sessions - Alon Goldstein - Schubert Sonata in C Major, D.840". Archived from the original on August 22, 2006.
- Javier Arrebola (2012). The Unfinished Piano Sonatas of Franz Schubert. Ochando Press. ISBN 978-952-5959-36-9.
- "Schubert as Finished by Ernst Křenek (Blog discussing the Křenek completion)". The Shellackophile Blog. January 17, 2011. Retrieved December 2013.