The great Argentine pianist Martha Argerich plays Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58. The piece was composed in 1844 and dedicated to Countess Emilie de Perthuis. This performance was recorded in Hamburg on June 25, 2020.

The great Argentine pianist Martha Argerich plays Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58. The piece was composed in 1844 and dedicated to Countess Emilie de Perthuis. This performance was recorded in Hamburg on June 25, 2020.

Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3

Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, is a towering masterpiece in the piano repertoire, showcasing the composer’s mature style and technical brilliance. Composed in 1844, during a period of relative stability in Chopin’s often tumultuous life, the sonata is notable for its intricate design, emotional depth, and technical challenges. It represents the pinnacle of Chopin’s development as a composer for the piano, combining the lyrical expressiveness and intricate ornamentation of his earlier works with a greater structural coherence and an expanded approach to form.

The sonata is imbued with the romantic spirit of the era, characterized by its expressive melodies, rich harmonies, and dynamic contrasts. However, it also displays a classical restraint and structural clarity, reflecting Chopin’s deep admiration for the works of Bach and Mozart. This synthesis of Romantic expressivity and Classical formality sets Sonata No. 3 apart from many of Chopin’s other compositions, which often prioritize lyrical or narrative elements over structural concerns.

Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 is a work of profound emotional range, exploring themes of passion, sorrow, and transcendence. The music moves fluidly between moments of delicate introspection and powerful grandeur, offering a compelling narrative that unfolds over the course of its four movements. Each movement contributes to the overall architecture of the sonata, while also standing as a significant achievement in its own right.

Technically, Sonata No. 3 is one of Chopin’s most demanding works, requiring a pianist of exceptional skill to navigate its complex passages, wide leaps, and intricate figurations. The work challenges the performer to maintain a balance between technical precision and expressive depth, demanding not only virtuosic prowess but also a deep sensitivity to the nuances of Chopin’s musical language.

Despite its technical challenges, the Sonata No. 3 is beloved by pianists and audiences alike for its beautiful melodies, innovative harmonies, and the emotional journey it offers. It has become a staple of the concert repertoire, celebrated for its ability to convey the depth of human experience through the medium of the piano. The Sonata No. 3 remains one of Chopin’s most enduring legacies, a testament to his genius as a composer and his profound understanding of the piano’s expressive capabilities.


1. Allegro maestoso

The first movement of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, marked Allegro maestoso, is a grand and expansive exposition of Chopin’s mature musical language, blending technical virtuosity with deep emotional expression. This movement sets the tone for the entire sonata, showcasing Chopin’s ability to merge the traditional sonata form with his unique lyrical and harmonic sensibilities.

Opening with a bold and dramatic theme, the movement immediately establishes a sense of majestic seriousness, reflecting the maestoso indication. This theme is characterized by its strong, assertive rhythm and dynamic contrast, offering a glimpse into the emotional depth and complexity that will be explored throughout the sonata. The initial theme is followed by a more lyrical and flowing second theme, which provides a contrast to the opening’s dramatic intensity. This second theme highlights Chopin’s gift for melody, featuring beautifully singing lines that float above the accompaniment.

The development section of the movement delves further into the thematic material, exploring a wide range of harmonic and textural transformations. Chopin demonstrates his mastery of form and structure, weaving together the movement’s themes in intricate and unexpected ways. This section is marked by its dynamic shifts and the interplay between the piano’s registers, creating a sense of tension and release that propels the music forward.

Following the development, the recapitulation brings back the initial themes, now altered and enriched by their journey through the development. Chopin skillfully integrates the main themes, ensuring that the return to the opening material feels both familiar and transformed. The movement concludes with a coda that reaffirms the opening’s majestic character, ending on a powerful and resolute note.

Throughout the first movement, Chopin’s use of the piano’s capabilities is on full display, from the delicate nuances of the lyrical passages to the bold, assertive statements of the main themes. The movement demands a high level of technical skill and emotional insight from the performer, requiring not only virtuosic prowess but also a deep understanding of Chopin’s musical language.

2. Scherzo: Molto vivace

The second movement of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, marked Scherzo: Molto vivace, is a dazzling display of Chopin’s compositional skill, blending virtuosity with a nuanced emotional depth. Contrary to the traditional scherzo, which often embodies a light-hearted or joking manner, Chopin’s approach in this movement is more complex, weaving together elements of whimsy with undercurrents of intensity and passion.

This movement is characterized by its brisk tempo and sparkling, agile passages that demand precision and agility from the performer. The opening bars introduce a rapid, rhythmic motif that sets the stage for the movement’s energetic and sometimes turbulent character. This motif recurs throughout the movement, acting as a unifying thread amidst the contrasting sections.

Following the initial outburst, the movement transitions into a trio section that contrasts sharply with the opening. Here, Chopin introduces a more lyrical, song-like melody that provides a moment of repose from the preceding vivacity. This section showcases Chopin’s gift for melody and his ability to convey profound emotion through simple, elegant lines. The lyrical theme is imbued with a sense of longing and introspection, offering a brief interlude of calm within the storm.

After the trio, the movement returns to the opening material, revisiting the rapid motifs and energetic rhythms of the scherzo. This return is not merely a repetition but a development of the initial themes, enriched by the contrast with the trio section. Chopin’s mastery of form and his ability to balance contrasting elements are evident in the seamless integration of the movement’s parts.

The movement concludes with a coda that revisits the scherzo’s main themes, bringing the movement to a vigorous and exhilarating close. The final bars are marked by a flourish of virtuosic passages, showcasing the performer’s technical skill and bringing the movement to a triumphant conclusion.

3. Largo

The third movement of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, marked Largo, serves as the emotional heart of the sonata, offering a profound moment of introspection and serenity. This movement is a departure from the energetic scherzo that precedes it, showcasing Chopin’s ability to craft music of deep contemplation and expressive beauty.

Characterized by its slow tempo and expansive melodic lines, the Largo is a showcase of Chopin’s lyrical genius. The movement opens with a solemn, chorale-like theme in the left hand, setting a meditative tone that pervades the entire movement. This theme is soon joined by a tender and expressive melody in the right hand, which unfolds with a sense of unhurried grace and poignancy.

The structure of the Largo is relatively simple, with Chopin focusing on the development of a single, overarching melody rather than a complex interplay of themes. However, the movement’s simplicity is deceptive, as it demands a deep emotional engagement from both the performer and the listener. The music’s beauty lies in its subtlety and the nuanced dynamics and phrasing that bring its melodies to life.

Throughout the Largo, Chopin employs a rich harmonic palette that enhances the music’s reflective character. The use of dissonance and unexpected harmonic shifts adds depth to the movement, creating moments of tension that resolve into passages of sublime tranquility. The overall effect is one of profound introspection, as if the music is a conduit for the exploration of the innermost reaches of the soul.

The movement progresses at a deliberate pace, allowing each note and chord to resonate fully, creating an atmosphere of timelessness. As it approaches its conclusion, the Largo gradually recedes into silence, leaving behind a sense of peace and resolution. The movement’s final chords, played softly and with great restraint, serve as a gentle farewell to the introspective journey it has undertaken.

The Largo of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 is a masterpiece of emotional depth and expressive restraint. It stands as a testament to Chopin’s unparalleled ability to convey complex emotional landscapes through the medium of the piano. In the context of the sonata, the Largo provides a moment of calm and reflection before the final movement’s return to the dynamic and dramatic themes introduced earlier in the work.

4. Finale: Presto non tanto

The fourth movement of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, marked Finale: Presto non tanto, is a brilliant and vigorous conclusion to the sonata, showcasing Chopin’s exceptional compositional skills and deep understanding of the piano. This movement combines the intensity and drama that characterize much of the sonata with a sense of urgency and forward momentum, culminating in a technically challenging and emotionally satisfying finale.

Structured in a rondo form, this movement is built around a recurring principal theme that is both lively and rhythmically driven. This theme serves as an anchor, returning in various forms between contrasting episodes that explore different textures and moods. The principal theme is notable for its energetic character and the technical demands it places on the performer, including rapid scales, intricate passagework, and dynamic contrasts.

The contrasting episodes introduce new material that is lyrical and expressive, providing a counterbalance to the vigorous main theme. These sections showcase Chopin’s lyrical gifts and his ability to evoke a wide range of emotions through the piano. The interplay between the energetic rondo theme and the more reflective episodes creates a dynamic and engaging musical narrative.

As the movement progresses, Chopin’s writing becomes increasingly virtuosic, with the introduction of complex figurations, fast arpeggios, and demanding leaps. The performer is challenged to maintain clarity and expressiveness amidst the technical demands, highlighting Chopin’s ability to write music that is both challenging for the pianist and deeply moving for the listener.

Unlike the composer’s first and second sonatas, the work ends in a major key.

The finale builds to a thrilling conclusion, with the return of the main theme in its most forceful and triumphant iteration. The movement culminates in a coda that pushes the music to its limits in terms of speed and intensity, ending the sonata on a note of exhilarating triumph.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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