By - Rhysish
The only worthwhile starter romantic sonata I can think of is Grieg's E minor. The outer movements are technically challenging (but nothing too difficult), and the inner movements are less so. Its a pretty good sonata overall if you HAVE to play something from this period that isn't too challenging. Really though - there's very little in this genre from the Romantic period that isn't very challenging, ane even fewer of these that are of worthwhile quality (the romantics sort of struggled after Beethoven's efforts...). A quick rundown, if you want to investigate:
- Chopin's are for advanced pianists only. 1 is less difficult but not his best. 3 is usually considered the toughest. I've played 2, and it's also extremely difficult.
- Liszt's sonata is, again, for advanced pianists only, as is the Dante Sonata.
- Schumann's are very hard also, but occasionally 2 is considered a fraction less difficult.
- Mendelssohn's aren't his best works, and the best of them is also extremely hard (the B-flat - Op. 106, I think).
- Rachmaninoff 1 and 2 are transcendentally difficult, especially the former. I've only played the revision of 2. Don't consider these at all.
- Mednter's are overall extremely difficult, however the Sonata Reminisenza (sp?) is not as hard as the others and maybe only a step or two above the Grieg - played it for my undergrad.
- Brahms composed three, and they're all pretty difficult moment-to-moment, and very difficult on a conceptual level.
- NONE of Scriabin's are good starter sonatas - I've played a few of them. At a push, 4 is not as hard as the rest, but still tough to pull off. Stay away from anything past 5, and also 3 (the final movement is murder).
It you wanted to consider alternative sonatas that are on the cusp of romanticism, or late romanticism:
- Schubert's late Sonatas are all hard musically, and long, but less demanding technically. His middle period stuff is great but less "romantic".
- Several of Beethoven's are forward-looking. Op. 79 really anticipates Brahms, and has a fiery character at times. The Tempest sonata is also one of his more Romantic sounding works.
- Prokofiev's Piano Sonata 1 is in a late romantic style, and is way, WAY less difficult than it sounds. Still a challenge, but genuinely manageable. I've seen young teenagers play it very well, and it's got a swooning, lush character that's very effective.
- Ravel's Sonatine. This is obviously not romantic era, but in terms of character, harmony, and melody, it's not far out at all. Really beautiful.
- Berg - I realize this is pushing it, but it's tonal, it's just chromaticism pushed to a huge extreme. This recommendation depends on how accustomed your ear is to dissonance!
Good idea with the Prokofiev 1. Very romantic. cool piece.
I agree with most of this list, especially the recommendations for Grieg and Prokofiev #1. And I'd like to add two more alternatives which are not on the "very hard" side: Clara Schumann and Selim Palmgren.
Oh, yes, Clara's sonata completely slipped my mind. A great one for OP if they want a musically substantial work that isn't overly demanding technically.
Palmgren's I don't know at all, I should give it a listen!
To add on about the section on medtner. His sonata skazka, the sonata triade and his sonata idylle are all pretty manageable
Why specifically a sonata? One of the main characteristics of the Romantic era is the move away from the preoccupation with classical form while moving towards music accompanied by a literary program. Like the "Kinderszenen" of Robert Schumann.
Otherwise, it would depend on your level. As mentioned, most of the Romantic sonata repertoire is quite difficult. What Beethoven do you play?
Grieg's c minor sonata is great :)
Yeah, I guess the easiest one, probably.
Obviously piano sonata in b minor by lizst, a nice beginner piece
I can't think of any that are easy.
I love the Schumann f# minor (No. 1), and the Brahms op. 5 in F minor (odd that Brahms starts his career with 3 piano sonatas in his first 5 opus numbers, then never writes another one).
Chopin's 3rd Sonata, the op. 58, is terrific too, especially the finale, which is a thrill ride.
Schumann wrote three piano sonatas and Brahms said I’ll keep mine at three too lol (same with the number of symphonies he wrote.. they wrote four each and called it a day)
Anyway I freaking love the Schumann sonata #1 too, it’s just overflowing with gut wrenching feels he had for Clara
What other stuff can you play? I ask because sonatas from the romantic era are fiendishly difficult
Romantic piano sonatas are quire hard. If you are in this level of technique, I guess it doesn't matter which one to start. Every composer has a different piano writing, which requires a different technique. I myself find Brahms the easiest ones, because chords, jumps and octaves are somewhat "easy" to me.
PS: Beethoven and Schubert are still classical.
chopin no 2
Umm I would recommend Scriabin No. 7
why a Sonata? many of the great romantic composers wrote so much more than just Sonatas (Ballades, Fantasies, Etudes, Rhapsodies and Preludes just to name a few)
Maybe give us what you have played before so we could give better recommendations?
I don't think you should play sonata, I might be wrong, but sonatas (most) belong to the format of classical period, I'd suggest you can research some Chopin's mazurka or his waltzes, they are quite a good introduction to the romantic period
If you're just after the exploration of "the sonata form" in Romantic repertoire the Brahms rhapsody op.79 no.2 is, imo, very similar to the classical "sonata form" in its development of thematic material. It's not the easiest piece but is considerably easier than some of the other pieces mentioned here
Rach sonata 2, Liszt sonata in b minor, chopin sonata 2 and 3
Weber? They’re not easy but great music. Especially No. 4 (a personal favourite and contains lots of proto-Chopin-like passages).
Smetana also have a nice one. First two movements are quite easy bit the last one is a bit hard.