The first movement asks ‘what if it were okay for the hands not to play together?’ As any first year piano student can attest, normally this would be very bad – clumsiness at best, affectation at worst. The immediacy and intensity of emotion is staggering, right from the opening C minor chord. It's temptingly easy for us to connect the brooding scowl on Beethoven's portraits and busts to the dramatic, stormy, high-intensity music he wrote in this key: works full of deep pathos and possessed by a relentless, sometimes demonic drive. And over the weekend I will post a listening guide to the 1st sonata, and write about that first filming session. 1, with its wonderful simplicity, innocence and utter lack of desire to move anywhere, harmonically speaking (this, in contrast to the most basic tenet of a sonata form – its inherent need to change key, change subject, modulate, explore). The opening chord breaks once and for all with Haydn and Mozart. 111 will be released on New Year’s day 2021. The second movement is the dramatic core of the piece: an unfolding narrative, its opening an early embodiment of 'Innigkeit', this elusive word, part heartfelt, part hushed and awed, part personal and treasured. Only towards the end of the development (05:05) does Beethoven’s customary ease of surprising us come to the fore, as he brings the left hand to the very bottom of the keyboard in a long, very atmospheric pianissimo passage. This application is intended to become familiar with the complete collection of Beethoven Piano Sonatas.CONTENT:All 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas including life? And just in the first-page introduction we are confronted with pain and pathos, nobility and hope, despair and crushing of said hope – a cry straight out of Beethoven’s heart and soul, hurled at us without any protective barriers. 32 in C minor written in 1822. 2, it's the third work of the sonatas Op. I was offered the chance to play it as a teenager; I read through it briefly, decided with typical teenage cockiness that it wasn’t ‘that awesome’, and asked to play Sonata No. I don’t mean this as a florid exaggeration; I say it based on the experience of learning the early sonatas over the past weeks, of having filmed sonata No. It's the key of the Fifth Symphony, the Third Piano Concerto, the Coriolan Overture, the Pathétique, etc., etc. I wanted to follow Beethoven on his path and treat every sonata as I believe Beethoven would have treated it: as the pinnacle of what he was able to achieve at that point in his creative life. In a last similarity to the Appassionata both movements end with a fast coda (11:40), though here too, the similarity is outweighed by the contrast: Op. To No. At that point – 1795 – he was already famous as a keyboard virtuoso, but the transition to fame as a composer was not obvious, and he took great care with the first works he published, a set of three trios (Op. 111. A highly unusual, intriguing and fascinating sonata, far more ‘awesome’ that an initial glance might suggest. Prolonged, but without an implied narrative or strong atmosphere (its C major can at times even seem bland). Thus the Theme and Variation 1 contain bars of 3 x 3; in Variation 2 it is 3 x 2 x 3; in Variation 3 it is 3 x 2 x 2 x 3; and from Variation 4 it is 3 x 3 x 3.” The Association’s complete commentary can be read here. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 1, with its younger sister, the Pathétique, Op. Now life continues, and with intensity, but I will be digesting last week for a while, I’m sure. Sonata form was the most prominent musical structure of the Classical period and is divided into three sections. As I wrote yesterday, the two sonatas Op. Considering the very long delay since their composition, it is probable that Beethoven never intended these ‘two little easy sonatas’ to be published at all. graceful motif with increasingly elaborate variations. He also has a real flair for Beethoven’s fugal writing, so critical to the “Hammerklavier” Sonata, the Sonata … It's tremendously fun to play. For sheer theatrical pleasure, though, listen to the transition to the reprise (4:18) – the crossing of the hands, as they simply can’t come together, the plaintive E flat clashing with the deadpan repeating D, the waits and stops and hesitations – it’s masterly; and so is the coda (6:14). The rondo finale contrasts a wonderfully flowing refrain with more ebullient episodes as well as a highly dramatic middle section. On the one hand, Sonata No. All seven were completely new for me, and I very excitedly learned the first four in the empty bits of time between concerts in October and November, and even more excitedly learned Nos. The second movement (5:57) changes the mood completely – no jokes or fun-making here. But what an unforgettable night. Then Beethoven stops (4:16), reconsiders (4:18) and finally continues in the right key of F major (4:27). A quadruple descending call is answered by an energetic rhythmical motif, as Beethoven resolutely effaces any residual darkness with the most vigorous, driven movement of the sonata. 10 and 11 – and I will do so tomorrow and next weekend. The direct and immediate feedback from the audience, the unusual intimacy of the setting and the acuteness of the situation we all share, make for a concert unlike any I’ve experienced. Those three came with their set of challenges though – though musically very clear, all three are virtuosic and increasingly expansive in scope and ambition (No. Beethoven’s increasing emotional maturity and sensitivity comes alongside a boundless imagination and a control of the instrument which was astounding already around the time of his first sonatas, and has only increased since. The instrument becomes ever more malleable in Beethoven’s hands, the colours and sonorities he conjures ever more lifelike and evocative, natural and almost self-evident, inescapable in their truthfulness. is a delightful companion, wonderfully catchy and very fun to play. 111. Schiff concludes his 32nd lecture with the observation that this sonata exemplifies ‘gratitude to God to be able to write such music.’ That is, being alive allows one to reach beauty and interpret wonder. The main body of the first movement is full of relentless drive, storm and drama. The heart of the sonata for me is its middle movement (6:20): a slowly unfolding soliloquy, gently glowing, suspended in a timeless world. 13 that, for me, it was the true hidden gem of the cycle. As 9 of these 13 sonatas were completely new to me, those two weeks in Sacile, Italy (home of the Fazioli pianos) ended up being more intensely challenging than anything I've done in the last years. It is wonderfully humorous, full of endlessly self-generated energy, its flow barely interrupted by a few hesitations here and there. But it is the charm which prevails in the end, bringing this grand sonata to a surprisingly serene, low-key end. 16 is a delight, but a delight perhaps more cerebral than emotional. To counterbalance this immense tranquility, Beethoven infuses the outer movements with heaps of energy. I politely disagree with those who call this movement foursquare or perfunctory (those words could hardly apply to any of Beethoven’s mature works!). repeats it multiple times around the slightly more sombre episodes, allowing us (and perhaps himself too, as a performer) to enjoy it to its fullest. Bach, Cantata BWV 58, at the Sunday after New Year – Death in a New Eden, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_XPYX1X-6w&fbclid=IwAR0ThF8vhrOgOQla8JnI0wGQ4Rqe1-3ST56YNYAODeeUk5deXFBS1gcEHIQ. Yet personal emotion is constantly present, inseparable from the descriptive music; sometimes held back, sometimes barely controlled and overwhelming, specifically in the fortissimo chords of the climax, which are like cries of genuine anguish. The exposition is so chock-full of material that Beethoven keeps the development to a minimum: just a short dramatic episode. 32 in C Minor, Op. become increasingly varied and ornamented, showing Beethoven’s easy ingenuity and delight in exploring the material in an improvisatory way. A detailed guide that analyzes the structural, harmonic and thematic frame. sonatas over 9 filming days. Of the four sonatas in the recent group, the ‘Pastoral’ is the most traditional in its structure and in the composition of its movements. I’ve been playing all 5 quite regularly since I was a teenager, and I’ve recorded four of them last year. and have since been streaming 2-3 lunchtime concerts a week. It is a long rondo with a complex nested form, exploring a © Copyright 2002-2021 Hendrik Slegtenhorst. 1. – so much, in fact, that 'C minor mood' became a semi-official term in Beethoven literature. A fantasy was a free-form musical composition, commonly consisting of several loosely linked sections with abrupt shifts of tempo, mood and key. From two of Beethoven’s lesser sonatas (Nos. So what now? It was extra special that this project took place precisely in Brussels. That short, melodic figure proves important later on, as Beethoven builds half the development section around it – first as an imitative narrative (5:02), then in a veiled, pianissimo section (5:15), and finally as material for a wonderful build-up (6:22), from a mysterious (though always driven) half-whisper and up to a blaze of brilliance leading back into the recapitulation. What is especially interesting in Taruskin is his view that the first movement of Op. He has just played all 32 Beethoven sonatas in an 8-concert series this year, coupled with videos explaining his views on each sonata. The first one passes the theme to the left hand, with the right hand filling in the gaps between the melodic notes with soft-spoken syncopations. The finale (20:39), with its bagpipe-like drone in the bass, brings back the tone of the first movement – calm and mostly gentle, transparent in texture, radiant in its sound. 28 'Pastorale' Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. To single out just a few. A similar situation arises in Variation 3. At first, the thunderous octave passage is almost double the length of the opening Menuetto, seemingly overpowering it, but as the movement progresses, it is the minuet element that is developed and varied, acquiring elaborate ornamentation, while the octave passage becomes shorter and finally disappears completely until the very final bars. 27 No. 1 was perhaps the biggest challenge of all, as it’s No. 54 ends with an exuberant celebration in F major, joyful and triumphant. 23. In the end, perhaps it doesn’t matter. 31 No. The middle section wouldn’t be out of place in Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze, juxtaposing two syncopated gallops, the first fiery in spirit and a bit steely in sound, the second light-footed and questioning. Even though I had been playing Beethoven since I was a child, I feel I’ve only really started to discover him over the past months, as I embarked on a journey to learn and film all 32 sonatas over the course of 2020. In a word – increasingly hard. All rights reserved, including educational use. The first movement of Op. Bach, Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248-V, at the Sunday after New Year – Herod and the Magi, Mozart, Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, and Teachers – from Music and Being, J.S. And the earthiness of the opening phrases is contrasted with the middle section of the theme, which is written legato and floats weightlessly in a higher part of the keyboard. 13’s light. #32: Sonata No. One can imagine Beethoven proclaiming with happy self-assuredness: "look what I can do at the piano, no holds barred!" Privacy policy at https://hendrikslegtenhorst.com/privacy-policy/ 17 and Sonata No. 7, while Sonata No. 20, Op. 57. 10 No. And I’ll keep streaming Beethoven sonatas, as Beethoven is an incredible companion for these times: life-affirming, soul-nourishing, full of love of humanity (his legendary grumpiness notwithstanding), and, in his music, optimistic and sure of a bright dawn to come after any darkness. You can follow the entire project here on beethoven32.com. I’ll be releasing a new sonata every few weeks starting on the 17th of January, and I’ll be writing about my experience throughout the year. In the coming weeks I will release sonatas Nos. 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