[Smt-talk] More on the Pathetique

Steve Laitz slaitz at esm.rochester.edu
Wed Feb 22 09:06:37 PST 2012

From: Steve Laitz <slaitz at esm.rochester.edu>
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 11:56:44 -0500
To: smt-talk <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>
Conversation: More on the Pathetique
Subject: More on the Pathetique

Dear List,

At the expense of leading the discussion away from Joshua¹s excellent
question (much of which can be answered by careful reading of Hatten, Almen,
et al), the opening C-Bb-Eb figure in the Pathetique¹s slow movement (Op.
13) that Keith mentions is indeed audible and could be read‹in Rudolph Reti
style‹as controlling the entire sonata, at least if we acknowledge various
transformations of the intervallic figure.  For example, in the first
movement¹s development (mm. 137ff) the tune E-A-G emerges.  And the second
movement¹s counterpoint in the bass, Ab-Db-C‹C-G-Ab‹contrary motion
counterpoint to the soprano--might be heard as ³echoes² of the right-hand

Perhaps the P4 M2 configuration can also be linked to the following measures
in the slow movement:  the sequential-like F-Bb, Eb-A, Db-G.  Of course this
figure appears in the last movement (rondo) early on:  beginning in m. 5:
Ab-D, G-C.  However, hierarchically Ab is the structural upper neighbor to
G, which is played out more significantly in the piece than the surface
manifestations of the falling fifth motion.  That said, the C section of
this last movement rondo (mm. 78ff) foregrounds our initial C-Bb-Eb figure,
also in the right hand, this time in the learned style (both hands present
the figure in mirror canon):  C-F, Bb-Eb.

Steve Laitz
Eastman School of Music
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