• Ethan Chou

Franz Schubert: Impromptu in E-flat major, Op.90 No.2 - Ethan Chou 周軒逸

Call to Green Actions 綠色呼喚

As humans, we need resources and a suitable environment to live comfortably. With the world’s population expanding so rapidly in the 21st century, we demand more resources, continuously exploiting and harming the environment. In this condition, we and our future generation are left with limited options to meet our needs, whilst having to face the scarcity of resources. The best option we have is sustainable development; this way we can most effectively reduce climatic changes, ozone depletion, deforestation, and other equally-urgent issues. I believe humans’ biggest obstacle is our ego: the first step to sustainable development is to be selfless. Just as Albert Einstein said, “[t]he true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the Self.”

Music Selection 曲目賞析/遴選靈感

The title, “impromptus,” was not initiated by Schubert; rather, it occurred in the early 19th century as a musical expression form created by Jan Václav Voříšek. Schubert’s innovative approach to this musical style focuses on its rigorous, fundamental structure, thus exploring the potential of each impromptu feature. Perhaps just as natural laws are symmetric, the piece — one of the composer’s most iconic keyboard masterpieces — is formulated on a symmetrical structure (the conventional A-B-A followed by an unusual coda based on the B-theme). The most casual acquaintance with Schubert’s compositions — a first hearing or a brief glance at the score — manifests the composer’s preoccupation with nature-centred poetry:

With the second of the four impromptus begin the seemingly never-ending, playful scales that occupy the first half of the piece, later returning in the coda. These scales may be described as a gentle stream in sunny weather, with the left hand’s two-voice accompaniment calmly and deeply singing, embellishing the tranquil imagery. A quick ascending scale leads to the B section in B minor, marked by the contrasting rhythmically-implied accents coupled with widely-spaced octaves and triplets. If the scales symbolise a stream, it is, therefore, not unreasonable to think that the rough, dissonant middle section is reminiscent of a heavy storm. After the opening A-section repeats, the coda starts in B minor but alternates the key with E-flat minor — unconventionally beginning in a major key but ending in the parallel minor. Resolving from a series of powerful scales into the minor chords, this great, lyrical cycle thus concludes with its suggestion of perpetuity, incorporeality, and craft.