July 2011

July 2011

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Opus 31 (1)

Opus 31

We have seen it before with a set of 2 Sonatas. One very famous the other nearly forgotten. 

Here we have three Sonatas. The first nearly forgotten, the second the very famous 'Tempest' Sonata and the third also well known although not adorned by the public at large with a special name.

There is only one explanation. They were published together the first one more than a year after finishing it. That's it. The styles of the three sonatas is very different.

In the first Sonata Beethoven goes back to his early inspiration from Joseph Haydn. It is easy to recognise by now. The 2/4 time signature, the semiquaver patterns and the play with rhythm. Life is wonderful and to be enjoyed. 

The sonata will continue in the typical Haydn style. The second movement, rather Italian, is extremely hard to play with good effect on a piano, but on a spinet or cembalo it will have a good result. I rather suspect that this is one of the reasons why you don't hear this Sonata often. The movement is extremely hard, but who said Joseph Haydn wasn't a virtuoso.

The last movement - a real rondo for that matter - is more familiar to Beethoven ears. An interesting start. Suggesting D major at the start only to reveal G major in Bar 8. 

Then No. 2 the Tempest!

I am not sure whether of his middle period this is his best Sonata. There is too much competition in this period, but it is one of Beethoven's most beautiful Sonatas. 

An architect has been at work here. Like many Sonatas of his middle period this first movement is pure Sonata form, yet transcends it in so many ways. This first theme is so much more than a first theme. It's a broad idea with contrasting elements in it. The key of the second theme is really A minor, but so well concealed that once he uses an A major chord (bar 61) it is already the return to D-minor and the coda connects to the start. 

The Development section works on one idea solely.

And then immediately after the Reprise a surprise indeed. Beethoven suddenly interrupts the flow of ideas and does something entirely new. A bold warning of change. 

 The second movement is only a continuation of the promise of the first movement. Unlimited amount of ideas and the same subliminal threats under immense beauty. 

And then this:
The final movement is 'the' famous rondo. A rondo though in Sonata form - as Beethoven often does - and not in Rondo form. But it is cleverly concealed in a continuous flow of semiquavers. 

Fuer Elise for Adults. Words can't describe it. I give a link to listen to this...

Wilhelm Kempf 3rd movement...

But contrast this with this one of Andreas Schiff. Always my favourite:

Andreas Schiff 3rd movement

Barenboim in the first movement

Barenboim 2nd movement

Andreas Schiff 2nd movement

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