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Rethinking Mendelssohn$
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Benedict Taylor

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190611781

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190611781.001.0001

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Syntax and Process in the First Movement of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio, Op. 66

Syntax and Process in the First Movement of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio, Op. 66

Chapter:
(p.236) 10 Syntax and Process in the First Movement of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio, Op. 66
Source:
Rethinking Mendelssohn
Author(s):

Julian Horton

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190611781.003.0011

This chapter develops the claim that Felix Mendelssohn’s pivotal innovation in the realm of instrumental form lies in his strikingly post-classical response to the relationship between form and syntax. The C minor Piano Trio, Op. 66, reveals a rich array of syntactic habits that depart fundamentally from high-classical precedent. Expositional main-theme groups betray ‘loosening’ techniques, which greatly enlarge their dimensions; conversely, main-theme recapitulations are subjected to rigorous truncation. In between, functional elisions and cadential deferrals, achieved by the maintenance of active bass progressions across formal divisions, promote a degree of continuity that problematizes late-eighteenth-century notions of formal demarcation. These techniques unseat Mendelssohn’s classicist image. In Op. 66, the music’s Mozartian facility masks a technical radicalism, which is one of the defining contributions to the development of Romantic form.

Keywords:   Felix Mendelssohn, Piano Trio in C minor, sonata form, New Formenlehre, syntax, proliferation

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