by Michael Spitzer
James Hepokoski and Warren
Darcy. Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in
the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata. Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2006. xxix, 661pp.
As with Orson Welles's famous verdict on the path of his career—that
he started at the top and worked his way down—this review begins
with superlatives. Elements of Sonata Theory is a monumental
achievement, by any standards. Bringing together scholarship as impeccable
as it is encompassing, keen musical insights on every page, and a bold
theory that has been developed, jointly or independently, by the two authors
in publications over the previous decade, Hepokoski and Darcy's volume
fulfills, and even exceeds, all expectations. Students and scholars of
Classical music will be grateful for a book that affords them both a new
critical tool and a rich quarry of facts and ideas.