In my score, during the repetition of the opening theme, bar 5, the G flat major chord changes directly to an E flat minor chord, as is played in this performance.

However, the performances by Kissin and Horowitz goes from G flat major, Bflat 7th then to e flat minor. Is this an edited version, by Schubert himself or some publisher?

Personally I like the second version a lot more, but I'm not sure if it's "original".

  • It does seem that Schubert's Op. 90, No. 3 (D.899) is the most often altered of his impromptus. I've read about the "easier-to-read" version in G major, and then the movie Gattaca has a 12-fingers, still piano solo version. – Dekkadeci Dec 8 '20 at 12:29
  • I don't quite understand the point of the 'easier to read' version. Certainly by the time one can play it smoothly he/she would have mostly learnt the harmony shifts by heart. It's not a very sight-readable piece (at least for me) – Zhanfeng Lim Dec 8 '20 at 20:08

I have found reference to a note in the ABRSM edition, however I am not able to view the edition myself; reportedly the note states at the relevant place

“Bb 5 & 59 final minim: thus in the autograph. The 1st edition gives the equivalent of D-natural / F in the l.h. and D-natural in the r.h. These were almost certainly the publisher’s alterations, as they awkwardly anticipate b. 24.”

where “Bb” is an abbreviation for “bars” (not the name of a note!) and “thus in the autograph” means that the autograph has the notes as given in this edition, which one can understand from context is the Gb major chord. So the autograph has it as in your first recording and apparently the first edition changed it to how it is in your second and third recordings. The editor of the ABRSM edition believes the alteration to have been made by the publisher (and implies that they find it a poor change, which, for what it’s worth, I very much agree with)

source: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/3010151/re-schubert-impromptu-op-90-no-3-editions.html#Post3010151

  • Why is it considered to be a poor change? – Zhanfeng Lim Dec 8 '20 at 20:04
  • @ZhanfengLim I can only speculate about the editor's concerns, and so this is as much opinion as it is analysis. The piece opens with two phrases of melody, the first stretching from bar 1 to bar 8, the second being bars 9-16, which is then repeated with a variation, which are at 'home' in Gb major throughout and have a very elegantly proportioned ebb-and-flow within the different chords available – moving away from I and generating tension by doing so, then resolving that tension in an extremely well-balanced fashion. This breaks on the final minim of bar 24, which introduces a different – Judy N. Dec 8 '20 at 22:57
  • temperament and a contrasting section of the piece, which is much more dramatic and proceeds in a more exploratory manner than the "balanced"/"proportional" first section. It does this by the exact Bb7 chord that is inserted in bar 5 in the second version in your question. When the editor says the alterations “awkwardly anticipate bar 24”, my interpretation is that, by introducing the listener to this device in bar 5, which you later want to use to signal a shift in the whole mood of the piece in bar 24, you diminish its use for that purpose by making it already familiar to the listener. – Judy N. Dec 8 '20 at 23:00
  • 1
    I see, I had a similar feeling. It basically causes it to tension too early in the piece. Maybe this modification would be less jarring in the recapitulation, for a slight variation to the introduction? – Zhanfeng Lim Dec 9 '20 at 19:46

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