Beethoven Piano Sonata Summary

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"Grande sonate pour le pianoforte, dediee a M. le Comte de Browne, brigadier au service de Sa Majeste Imperiale de toute la Russie" is the complete title for this work composed from 1799 to 1800 and published in 1802 by Hoffmeister in Leipzig. This is the same publisher of the Symphony N.1 in C major which is composed around the same dates.

It is probable that Beethoven did not drafted the piano sonata in such large dimensions, but re-worked and expanded it later before its publication. It is the largest work of the so-called "first-style" of Beethoven. Also interesting is to note that this form of a large sonata in four movements will reappear in only two more piano sonatas later: the Sonata opus 28 and the "Hammerklavier" Sonata opus 106.
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Rich string orchestra sonorities with the melodies given by first and second violins playing at octave. A stormy scale breaks this round continuity and leads us to a flourishing Cadenza which will steadily go and settle down to connect with the Rondo to follow.

Finale: Allegro vivace

The lengthiest movement of the sonata, it draws with equal freedom from the Sonata-Allegro and Rondo forms. One may even say that it fulfills the function of the "missing" (traditional) Sonata first movement. It assumes the role of the "gravity center" of the entire work.

The exposition of the theme creates the illusion of a two voice counterpoint. This theme will remain as it is to the end and function as a Rondo theme, except for its short block-chord variation. The intermediate sections will then display glaring, colorful creativity involving brilliant virtuosity. At the point of climax, the theme form the Adagio re-appears, this "intermezzo" not only strengthens the structural integrity of the entire work but also adds an amazing dramatic scope to the
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Many stories are associated with this infamous Sonata. However, the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung wrote on the June 30th. 1802: "The opus 27 N.2 has nothing to be blamed for. This is a Fantasia of supreme compositional unity. Inspired by a bare, deep and intimate feeling it is like chiseled from one single marble block."

The composer, however, was less enthusiastic. To his pupil Czerny he said once: "people always talk about my Sonata in C-sharp minor. I did write better ones for example the one in F-sharp minor, and other things.."

The Sonata is a "quasi Fantasia" not by its structure which is more conservative than the opus 27 N.1, but rather by the illusion of an improvisation that the first movement has to create. As André Boucourechliev said: "the theme floats all over it. Sometimes on top, sometimes beneath the musical texture."

Adagio sostenuto

Always "pianissimo" and throughout with pedal, ("sempre PP and senza sordini"), "hundreds of triplets which turn incessantly" (Jörg Demus). The theme has something of a funeral march yet without the pomposity of the latter. A hypnotic continuity characterizes the movement which presents, in this seemingly monotonous settings many modulations including one to quite foreign keys. The melody evolves not like a chant but more as a speech, a calm, serene but intimate and powerful

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