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85 I have chosen to omit Piano Sonata No. 1 from this list because it is nearly impossible to distinguish any topical and generic opposition between the various modules in that exposition.
8 Continuation (mm. 17-24) 14 20 Example 2.3 P-Spaces in Three Piano Sonatas:(A) P-Space in Piano Sonata No. 2
(C): P-Space in the Cello Sonata (continued) Throughout his career, Chopin’s P-spaces remained basically neutral as far as their topical connotations; this was not the case with his S-spaces. Again, Chopin chooses from a relatively small
number of appropriate musical topics for his S-spaces. In terms of S-spaces, there are three possibilities:
a topically neutral theme, the Nocturne, and the Berceuse.86
86 I have adopted an ad hoc method for labeling the topical resonances in Chopin’s sonata-form works. It borrows strongly from the methodology used by Kofi Agawu in his seminal Playing with Signs (Agawu 1991).
For the most part, Chopin’s MC choices are standard (see Examples 2.5 and 2.6). I have already mentioned the idiosyncratic treatment of the expositional rotation in his early sonatas. These nonmodulating expositions seem be the extent of his MC deformations. Since all of his mature sonatas are set in the minor mode, the expositional MCs are of the normative III: HC variety.
Of special interest are the first movements of Piano Sonata No. 1, the Piano Trio, and Piano Concerto No. 1. These all feature non-modulating expositional rotations and modulating recapitulatory rotations. This again points to the fact that for the young Chopin, the achievement of a normative, modulating rotation was indeed a structural goal.
There are other kinds of caesuras besides the MC, however. It shall be essential to differentiate among the various kinds of caesura-effects in Chopin’s large works. Example 2.7 charts the various kinds of non-medial caesuras that occur in Chopin’s large works. Besides the more normative MC, there are three additional kinds of caesuras that appear. The first kind is called the “Second MC” (MC2) and its paradigmatic example is to be found near the end of rotation 2 in Ballade 1. This is a common occurrence in expositions that display the “Tri-Modular Block (TMB),” or exposition with two apparent MCs. In describing the TMB, it is useful to label the first caesura as “MC1” and the second caesura as “MC2.” There is only one TMB to be found in the Ballades and the sonatas: in rotation 2 of Ballade 1 (m. 166).
While Hepokoski/Darcy describe this type of caesura phenomenon, they do not give it a precise name.87 The second kind of non-medial caesura is the “postmedial caesura (PMC),” or a caesura that appears after the supposed achievement of EEC (or ESC).88 In such cases, EEC is not followed by acceptable C-material but by more TR. This serves to attenuate EEC and to defer it to first PAC that is sounded after the post-EEC caesura. The two most notable examples of this occur in Piano Sonata No. 2 (mm. 104-105) and in Ballade 4 (mm. 201-210). I will discuss these examples more fully below.
The third and final kind of non-medial caesura is what I have termed the “RT Caesura (RTC).” An RTC appears as the culmination of an RT passage, it often serves the purpose of making way for the beginning of a new rotation, or the beginning of a coda. The most notable example of an RTC in Chopin occurs at the end of rotation 2 in Ballade 2.
87 For Hepokoski/Darcy’s discussion of the TMB see Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 170-177).
88 Hepokoski/Darcy do, in fact, discuss this phenomenon (Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 159-163).
It will be worthwhile to distinguish between TR-material and RT-material. While TR and RT share some strong similarities, each serves a particular rhetorical purpose. Hepokoski/Darcy define TR as “… following P, the energy-gaining modules driving toward the medial caesura... ”89 Conversely, they define RT as “... a connective passage of preparation, usually leading to the onset of a new rotation, that is to the repeat of the exposition, to the onset of the recapitulation, or to the beginning of the coda.”90 A main difference between these two kinds of modules involves the issue of placement. That is, TR follows P and drives toward the MC, while the local function of an RT depends on context. In this study, as have Hepokoski/Darcy, I have chosen to denote RT as those passages that prepare the way for a new rotation and are marked by a return of the home tonic and the restatement of P-material. I denote as rt (lower case) those RT-like passages that prepare non-tonic returns of P themes. I denote TR material as those connective passages that occur within a rotation and prepare the way for S-material. TR and RT/rt can prepare both tonic and non-tonic keys.
Even though TR and RT/rt each serve distinct formal functions, certain kinds of procedures are common to both. For example, both kinds of modules are concerned with the issue of energy-gain and activating a dominant-lock. At least in terms of placement, Chopin’s treatment of RT/rt is consistent with the Hepokoski/Darcy description. Chopin’s RTs prepare the way for the recapitulation, the repeat of the exposition, or the beginning of a coda. A major difference between TR and RT/rt in Chopin involves size, intensity, and complexity. For the most part, Chopin’s RT/rts are short and simple, while his TRs tend to be lengthy, discursive, and multi-modular.
Chopin’s rts tend to be simple. This is particularly true of the inter-rotational rts that appear in Ballade 1 and 4. In both of these cases, the music just seems to passively drift from one rotation to the
expressive semi-tonal shift as it does in Ballade 4.
On the other hand, Chopin’s RTs often display a strong inclination toward energy-gain and a concern with producing a caesura (an RTC). Such is certainly the case in the first movement of Piano Sonata No. 2. In this case, we can interpret RT as harboring the re-emergence of the TR impulse as a corrective to a TR defect that was encountered early on. A similar thing happens in Ballade 3, although the line between TR and RT is blurred in that case, as we shall see.
Let us consider the rt process as it is manifested in two of Chopin’s large works: Ballades 1 and 4. In these works, the inter-rotational activity always serves to overturn a transient ERC that secures the secondary key. Examples 2.8-2.9 present the rt modules from Ballade 1. Example 2.8 presents the activity between rotations 1 and 2 (mm. 90-94). In this case, the music simply returns back to the tonic key via a semitonal displacement (Eis transformed to G minor). It should be noted, however, that this transformation is not permanent: at the start of rotation 2, the P-theme returns in the key of a minor, a tonality that is a tritone away from the key that ended rotation 1.
92 B III v ii Example 2.8: Inter-Rotational Activity in Ballade 1 (Rotations 1 and 2)
to g minor is indeed tragically permanent.91 This music, like the music from rotation 1, involves the overturning of an ERC in E. This time the ERC occurred in m. 182. It too, involves the same semitonal displacement and includes the same shift from Eto g minor.
have shown, the TRs that occur within each rotation are carefully worked out, belabored, and characterized by varying degrees of dysfunction and struggle. On the contrary, the music that occurs 91 This motion to and from Ein the second half of rotation 1 is significant because Eis the key in which most of rotation 2 is set.
presents the end of rotation 1 and the beginning of rotation 2 (mm. 127-129). Again, this involves an overturning of the ERC that occurred in m. 121. Importantly, there is no significant inter-rotational material, but rather a pitch-class re-interpretation (Abecomes G#) and an expressive shift by ascending semitone in mm. 128-129. Unlike Ballade 1, the rotational process in Ballade 4 involves the introductory material: the opening 7 bars recur at the beginning of rotation 2 (mm. 129-134).92
Chopin’s TRs utilize energy-gaining procedures that are common to the mid- and late-eighteenth century sonata. Nonetheless, there are several features that re-appear so often in Chopin’s sonatas and the Ballades that they can rightly be called signatures of his style (Example 2.6).93 Presently, I will discuss general characteristics. These should not be confused with the more dramatically precise TR paradigms that I will discuss later.
In Example 2.11, I have listed these characteristics along with a paradigmatic example of each.
Feature 1, a dependence on sequencing seems to be more prominent in Chopin’s early sonata forms. This is not to say that the mature TRs do not feature extensive sequencing, at least sometimes.94 Surely, Chopin became less and less dependent on this sometimes mechanical procedure as he found more subtle, interesting ways to construct TR modules.
Probably the most obvious sequence-based TR occurs in Solo 1 of Piano Concerto No. 1 (excerpted in Example 2.12). Notice that this TR begins with the statement of a repetitive 8-bar module based in the tonic (mm. 179-187). This module is followed by a transposed, dominant-based copy in the following several measures.
93 Because of the relatively small number of Sonatas at my disposal, I will infrequently reference the Ballades in my discussion of general TR characteristics.
94 The most notable example of a large sequence in Chopin’s mature work appears in rotation 2 of Ballade 3 (mm.
185 188 Example 2.12 Sequence-Based TR in Piano Concerto No. 1, Solo I (mm. 179-190) In Chopin’s early practice, at least, such “slow to get off the ground” TRs are common. Another case in point is the TR in the exposition of the Piano Trio, a work that has received little analytical attention (Example 2.13). The TR here begins in similar way, with a tonic based TR module that is treated sequentially. Unlike in the Piano Concerto, the second leg of the sequence appears in the
chromatic notes or harmonies that have rich hermeneutic implications. Often, these notes undergo a recontextual transformation and imply common-tone modulations. Such is the case with the pitch-class A#/Bin the exposition of Piano Sonata No. 3 (Example 2.14).96 This change in function actually facilitates a change in key: while the passage from mmm. 14-16 is set in b minor; the passage beginning at m. 17 is actually in B they take the form of problematic pitches that hinder the TR and energy-gaining process. Such cases are common in Chopin’s output. The TR2 (mm. 81-105) in the exposition of Piano Sonata No. 2 may be the clearest case (Example 2.15). Here, the TR process actually gets “caught up” by a chromatic E that arrests the TR process. The music spends so much of its energy overcoming the chromatic snag that it is unable to produce a normative, answered caesura.
96 See my discussion of the TR in Piano Sonata No. 3 in the following chapter.
97 D Example 2.15 Chromatic Irritant in Piano Sonata No. 2 (mm. 92-105)
prepared via its parallel minor in Chopin’s sonatas and Ballades. This occurs in rotation 1 of Ballade 3 and in the exposition of Piano Sonata No. 3 (Example 2.16). This particular phenomenon suggests, at the very least, a struggling, belabored TR.97
Feature 4, the de-energizing TR is the most salient and most hermeneutically charged characteristic of Chopin’s TRs. Of course, these energy-losing TRs are counter-generic and invite interpretation. Hepokoski and Darcy describe normative path of TR in the classical sonata in the
As a rule of thumb, once TR has begun the forte energy should be kept constant or on the increase all the way to the medial caesura proper. Any flagging of energy or vigor within TR—any diminuendo or faltering drop to piano— is counter-generic and constitutes an event that invites interpretation. It may suggest the production of something unusual: a medial caesura deformation or the presence of a troubled expressive problem being unfolded in the musical narrative.98
33 Dominant-Lock Colored by (mm. 33-36) 35 Example 2.16 New Key Prepared by Its Parallel Minor in Piano Sonata No. 3,first movement (mm.