What is a Classical Piano Sonata and Review of the Best Piano Sonatas

What Is A Piano Sonata?

A piano sonata can mean different things – for instance a short, four-minute, one movement piece; or a five movement work of epic proportions.

However, during the Classical era, sonatas had certain easily identifiable traits. In Haydn’s, Mozart’s, Beethoven’s or Schubert’s time, a sonata mostly had three or four movements: a quick one to start with, a slow second movement, perhaps a scherzo or minuet as third movement, and then another fast movement as a finale.

The first movement, and perhaps one or two of the other ones, were composed using the so called sonata form. Other common sonata movements could be a Rondo (often used as a last movement) or a set of variations.

Popular Piano Sonatas?

Scarlatti: Sonata in E major, L 23

Watch: Horowitz plays Scarlatti

Beethoven: Appassionata

Watch: Appassionata played by Daniel Barenboim

Chopin: Sonata in B flat minor

Watch: Funeral March from Chopin’s sonata in b flat major

Schubert: Sonata in A major, D 959

Brendel plays the 2nd movement of Schubert’s great A major sonata

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