Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Franz Schubert

Schubert must have loved the melody of the entr'acte from his incidental music to Rosamunde: he used it not only there but also as the slow movement of his A minor String Quartet and as the basis for this set of variations from his second set of Impromptus, Op. 142 (D. 899). As the third piece of the four impromptus, we hear a simple but heartfelt ternary melody in B flat major that moves through five variations. The first places the melody in the fourth and fifth fingers of the right hand above a rippling accompaniment in the other fingers and a gently syncopated left hand. The second variation embellishes the melody with playful twists and turns in the right hand. The third variation turns to the tonic minor, revealing tragic implications in the melody over an involved left-hand accompaniment. The fourth variation retains the key signature of the tonic minor but modulates to its relative major of G flat. The final variation returns the music to B flat major and embeds the melody in sweeping embellishments in the right hand that switch to the left hand halfway through. The piece closes with a ravishing coda marked più lento pianissimo, a simple choral setting of the melody.

-- James Leonard