Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/577

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SONATA.

the musical public in a way they had not felt before. His influence was paramount to give a decided direction to clavier-playing, and it is possible that the style of which he was the foster-father passed on continuously to the mas- terly treatment of the pianoforte by dementi, and through him to the culminating achieve- ments of Beethoven.

In respect of structure, most of his important sonatas are in three movements, of which the first and last are quick, and the middle one slow ; and this is a point by no means insignificant in the history of the sonata, as it represents a definite and characteristic balance between the principal divisions, in respect of style and expres- sion as well as in the external traits of form. Many of these are in clear binary form, like those of his elder brother, and his admirable predecessor, yet to be noted, P. Domenico Para- dies. He adopts sometimes the old type, di- viding the recapitulation in the second half of the movement; sometimes the later, and some- times the composite type. For the most part he is contented with the opportunities for variety which this form supplies, and casts a greater proportion of movements in it than most other composers, even to the extent of having all move- ments in a work in different phases of the same form, which in later times was rare. On the other hand, he occasionally experiments in struc- tures as original as could well be devised. There is a Sonata in F minor which has three main divisions corresponding to movements. The first, an Allegro, approaches vaguely to binary form ; the second, an Adagio, is in rough outline like simple primary form, concluding with a curious barless cadenza; the last is a Fantasia of the most elaborate and adventurous description, full of experiments in modulation, enharmonic and otherwise, changes of time, abrupt surprises and long passages entirely divested of bar lines. There is no definite subject, and no method in the distribution of keys. It is more like a rhap- sodical improvisation of a most inconsequent and unconstrained description than the product of concentrated purpose, such as is generally ex- pected in a sonata movement. This species of experiment has not survived in high-class mo- dern music, except in the rarest cases. It was however not unfamiliar in those days, and superb examples in the same spirit were provided by John Sebastian, such as the Fantasia Cromatica, and parts of someof theToccatas. JohnErnstBach also left something more after the manner of the present instance as the prelude to a fugue. Em- manuel Bach's position is particularly emphasised as the most prominent composer of sonatas of his time, who clearly shows the tendency of the new counter-current away from the vigour and honest comprehensiveness of the great school of which his father was the last and greatest representative, towards the elegance, polite ease, and artifi- ciality, which became the almost indispensable conditions of the art in the latter part of the \ 1 8th century. Fortunately the process of prop- j ping up a tune upon a dummy accompaniment, ]

��SONATA.

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��was not yet accepted universally as a desirable phenomenon of high-class instrumental music; in fact such a stride downward in one genera- tion would have been too cataclystic ; so he was spared the temptation of shirking honest concen- tration, and padding his works, instead of making them thoroughly complete; and the result is a curious combination, sometimes savouring strongly of his father's style

���and sometimes coldly predicting the style of the future

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In general, his building up of movements is full of expressive detail, and he does not spare him- self trouble in enriching his work with such things as ingenuity, genuine musical perception and vivacity of thought can suggest. He occa- sionally reaches a point of tenderness and poetic sensibility which is not unworthy of his descent, but there is also sometimes an uncomfortable premonition in his slow movements of the pos- turing and posing which were soon to be almost inevitable in well-bred Adagios. The spirit is indeed not greatly deep and earnest, but in out- ward things the attainment of a rare degree of point and emphasis, and of clearness and cer- tainty in construction without emptiness, sufficed to give Philip Emmanuel a foremost place among the craftsmen of the art.

P. Domenico Paradies was Emmanuel Bach's senior by a few years. Two of his sonatas, at least, are deservedly well known to musicians. The structural qualities shown by the whole set of twelve, emphasise the opinion that binary form was familiar to composers of this period. They dif- fer from Philip Emmanuel's chiefly in consisting uniformly of two movements only. Of these, the first movements are almost invariably in binary form. That of the I st sonata is perfectly complete and of the later type ; many of the others are of the early type. Some details in the distribution of the movements are worth noticing. Thus the last movement of No. 4 is a very graceful and pretty minuet, which had hitherto not been so

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