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The Piano Sonata in A major is one of Schubert's finest. The first movement, an Allegro in 4/4, opens vigorously. Triplet rhythms abound throughout the movement, whose second theme reveals Schubert at his most songful. In the middle section we find a bold departure from tradition. Instead of basing this development on either of his two previous themes, Schubert introduces new material - a balladlike section marked by bewitching lyricism. This is followed by technical fireworks based on the rapid crossing of hands. The final section restates the material with subtle changes in the musical fabric.
The slow movement is an Andantino in 3/8 that opens with a poignant melody, The left hand accompanies in a rocking rhythm. The dramatic middle section is marked by clashing dissonances: the changes from minor to major and back are wholly characteristic of Schubert. Finally, the opening melody is repeated, with delicate ornamentation.
The third movement an Allegro vivace in 3/4, is a splendid example of the Schubertian scherzo. The middle section is quieter, but requires great deftness in handcrossing: then the opening episode is repeated in its entirety. Pervaded by the spirit of Austrian peasant dance, this Scherzo stands in the great line of succession that leads from the driving scherzos of Beethoven to those of Bruckner and Mahler The finale, an Allegretto in 4/4, is a rondo with an opening theme of almost Beethovenian serenity. This melody is followed by another that is expanded at length, though the rondo theme keeps returning in many fascinating guises. Equally worthy of note are the dramatic silences that punctuate the music just before the whirlwind coda.
Auf dem Strom ("On the River"), by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), posthumously published as Op. 119, was written in the composer's final year. Later in the same year he composed Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, which shares with this work the peculiarity of having an obbligato wind instrument (a clarinet in the latter case) sharing honors with the usually inviolable team of voice and piano.