Every composer and especially the composer who elevated the Piano Sonata to the extend as Beethoven did has his minors and what can you do between a Waldstein and an Appassionata?
Beethoven, who would have featured in a 'Who is Who' of his day, apparently was doing his best to feature for once in a 'What is this?' of his day.
If there is one Sonata, which has marks of being unfinished it is this Sonata in F. Not at all like Sonata opus 90 which also only has two movements, but feels very complete.
Perhaps the whole situation is explained by the fact that Beethoven had problems with his publishers at the time, because he had felt he could decide to get into business with an English publisher, without consulting his own publisher? So this Sonata should not have been published at all? Or was Beethoven so desperate for money that he had thought: 'Well, what do the English know about music?' anticipating Leonard Bernstein on the matter, 'The English don't appreciate music, but they do like the noise'.
Perhaps Beethoven was taking a joke after several years of teaching Carl Czerny?
Because in the need for explaining this Sonata in the end all one can do is claiming that it is a statement of Beethoven's humour! But nowhere like Opus 14 no. 2's second movement, which leaves me rolling over the floor with laughter. This sonata leaves me only wide eyed.
Good all right! Beethoven was fed up with Sonata form and the traditional Sonata model. Nothing wrong with that. Because everything Beethoven does must have the explanation suited for a genius.
But I keep at it that Beethoven just had a bad hair day!
Or he was indeed giving a statement on mediocre composers. If you like Carl Czerny. Because it is known indeed that Beethoven did do that also in public to air his opinion about a Piano Novelty of some new performer or composer.
But it should have stayed at that. An improvisation after a concert to have some pun intended by the composer at the top of 'Who's who'. It should never have reached the printing press.
It's not for the Minuet theme of the first movement which is delightful. If it would have been a Minuet!
Alas I admit. The variations on the Minuet theme are delightful too. In the recording given below, do notice the syncopations in the variations of the theme. They are amazingly 20th century.
If someone seriously disagrees with me and finds this Sonata in a Recital programme that does not feature all of Beethoven's Sonatas, but only one Beethoven Sonata, I would be so grateful to know about it.
Even Andreas Schiff!
But let's us give this Sonata a hearing from the best contemporary performer and one at that who will not share my opinion. 'There are no weak links' in Beethoven's Sonatas he believes in the lecture recitals. Do notice his referral to Joseph Haydn to understand this Sonata.
Lecture on Opus 54 by Andreas Schiff