My sheet music states quite clearly:
Schubert: Sonata in A minor Arpeggione D. 821 for Cello and Piano
But others state something different:
Schubert: Sonata in A minor Arpeggione D. 821 for Viola and Piano
So, this must be a transcription of the Cello work, Right?
Schubert: Sonata in A minor D. 821 for Arpeggione and FortePiano was in fact written for an instrument called the Arpeggione and accompanied not by the piano, but by its predecessor, the FortePiano. A much different picture!
About the Solo Instrument:
The Arpeggione is a now defunct six-stringed bowed instrument with frets (essentially a bowed guitar). Schubert’s 1824 sonata is the only substantial composition for the instrument, which had been invented just one year earlier by Schubert’s friend J.G. Staufer, one of the finest guitar makers of the 19th century (Schubert’s own guitar was made by Staufer). Schubert was commissioned by – and dedicated the composition to – the guitarist Vincenz Schuster, who eventually became an Arpeggionist and wrote a method published by Diabelli in Paris.
The main difference between the Cello and the Arpeggione is the size and range of the instrument, it seems to fall somewhere between the Viola and the Cello, but it can go both lower than a viola and higher than a cello. The instrument has since become obsolete.
However, the music is so exquisite that it has survived in many transcriptions, from Double Bass, to Trombone, Guitar (John Williams even turned it into an orchestrated concerto), Saxophone. etc.
Most discussions on this work focus on the solo-instrument. There are almost no recordings of an Arpeggione, therefore the sound is hard to imagine. Therefore the recorded excerpt below is that much more important as a reference point, purely in terms of sound, if not only “interpretation”. The Arpeggione has a very different sound to the cello, much more transparent and floaty. And because of the frets, it seems to be that much harder to get a full-blooded vibrato out of it.
Listen to a rare recording of the First Movement of Schubert’s Sonata in A minor Arpeggione D. 821, played on the original instruments. (See links to the other movements in the comments below the article, courtesy of Nicolas Deletaille)
Schubert: Sonata in a minor D. 821. for Arpeggione and FortePiano Played by Nicolas Deletaille, (Arpeggione) and Alain Roudier, (Fortepiano):
About this recording:
Arpeggione: B. Labrique 2001 (Brussels)
Fortepiano: Conrad Graf 1827 (Vienna) (collection Association Pianoforte ad libitum, Etobon, France: http://www.pianoforteadlibitum.org)
Sound engineer & vidéo : Luc Henrion (http://www.luc-henrion.be)
Recorded at the Castle of Corroy-le-Château on July 8, 2012
A CD recording by the same performers is available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/alainroudier1
The work has been recorded in the original version by the following musicians:
- Klaus Storck and Alfons Kontarsky (1974, LP No 2533 174 on the Archiv Produktion label) (Klaus Storck played an arpeggione attributed to Anton Mitteis, a student of the instrument’s inventor, Georg Stauffer; Alfons Kontarsky played a Brodmann fortepiano built in Vienna ca. 1810.
- Alfred Lessing and Jozef De Beenhouwer (2000-2001, Ars Produktion FCD 368 392). Played on a copy by Henning Aschauer of an early 19th-century instrument built either by J. G. Staufer or by Anton Mitteis, at present in the Musical Instrument Collection of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and on the 1824 Conrad Graf pianoforte from the Beethoven House in Bonn.
- Gerhart Darmstadt and Egino Klepper (2005, Cavalli Records CCD 242)
- Nicolas Deletaille and Paul Badura-Skoda (2006-2007, Fuga Libera FUG529). This recording was made in Firenze (Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofori) on a Benjamen La Brigue arpeggione (2001) and the fortepiano is a Conrad Graf (C. 1820)
19th Century FortePiano vs 20th Century Pianoforte
Since I am a pianist, I can not think of performing this piece without considering the fact that the modern piano has a very different character and sound to the instrument Schubert would have known. The modern piano is much louder, and sounds sustain much longer. The pedal and the metal frame of our current-day pianos combine to make it a richly sonorous machine designed to sustain vast quantities of sound. Applying such big-boned playing to a more delicate instrument is simply not possible, and would damage it. Translating the delicate texture of the earlier instrument to a modern piano, without infusing it with the inherent richness of the newer machinery, similarly would rob the modern piano of its soul.
Kristian Bezuidenhout introduces Mozart’s fortepiano:
To view a documentary on the FortePiano from Medici.tv, click HERE
Download Free Sheet Music of Schubert’s Sonata in A minor Arpeggione D. 821:
Listen to a rare COMPLETE recording of Schubert’s Sonata in A minor Arpeggione D. 821, played on the original instruments by Alfred Lessing (Arpeggione) & Jozef De Beenhouwer (Piano):
This recording was made between 2000 and 2001 using a copy by Henning Aschauer of a 19th-century arpeggione built either by J. G. Staufer or by Anton Mitteis (part of the collection of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) and the 1824 Conrad Graf pianoforte from the Beethoven House in Bonn.
Comparison Between a FortePiano from Schubert’s time and a modern PianoForte
So to put the Forte-Piano into fuller perspective, here is a comparison of two recordings of the same work by Schubert, on a piano made during his life-time, compared with a modern piano.
F. SCHUBERT – Sonata in A Major D 959: played by ANDREAS STAIER, fortepiano
1. Allegro (00:00)
2. Andantino (16:25)
3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace) (24:45)
4. Rondo (Allegretto) (29:17)
(Live recital, 12 Giugno 1996, Firenze, Accademia B. Cristofori) – Prima parte
Pianoforte Conrad Graf, 1824 (n. 1041)
Foto Conrad Graf, 1819-20
F. SCHUBERT – Sonata in A Major D 959: played by MAURIZIO POLLINI, Pianoforte
Forty-one year old Maurizio Pollini performs the Schubert A major Sonata, D. 959. Pollini recorded this performance in December, 1983 at the Musikverein, Großer Saal, in Vienna. This video was created from a cassette recording I purchased in 1987, shortly after it was issued by DG (serial number 419 230-4).
Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Andantino (14:50)
Movement 3: Scherzo. Allegro vivace – Trio. Un poco piu lento (22:28)
Movement 4: Rondo. Allegretto (27:16)
About the Editions of Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata:
Many editions of the work exist. Here is a small selection:
International Music version, edited by Rose
Urtext version by Verlag
Barenreiter Urtext edited by Helmut Wirth and Klaus Storck
Master Music Publications edited by Starker
Scott Music version for cello and guitar, not sure of the editor
G. Henry Erlag edited by Wolf-Dieter Seiffert
Edition Peters edited by Bernhard Guenthe
Beautiful page on the arpeggione sonata!
I don’t know if you saw it but the video of the sonata played on a Graf with Alain Roudier and myself has a continuation on youtube (second and third movements). I mention it to you since I believe it is the only existing video available of this sonata played on arpeggione and fortepiano: http://youtu.be/JRFQ85SU_qs
[Could I just ask you to add a photographic credit on the picture of my arpeggione? The picture was made by the photographer Philippe de Formanoir (Brussels) Thank you for that!]
Dear Nicolas – I am so honoured that you found my page and found the time to comment! Most of my site is either promotional material for concert, or like this page, fall under the umbrella of “labour-of-love”, research, study and exploration of a work I am performing. I enjoy it and it truly helps me in my preparation for live performance. I will adjust the credits that you mention. I love the recording and learnt so much about the piece from the particular sound of the instruments. Please to “cybermeet” you!
Greetings from a hot and sunny South Africa!