Daniel Barenboim plays Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2, No. 2. Recorded live in Berlin in 2005.
The piece was composed in 1796, when the composer was 26 years old, and dedicated to Joseph Haydn (31 March 1732 – 31 May 1809), the prolific Austrian composer of the Classical period.
- Allegro vivace 2/4: An athletic movement that has a bright disposition. The second theme of exposition contains some striking modulations for the time period. A large portion of the development section is in F major, which contains a third relationship with the key of the work, A major. A difficult, but beautiful canonic section is also to be found in the development. The recapitulation contains no coda and the movement ends quietly and unassumingly. British musical analyst, musicologist, writer on music, composer, conductor and pianist Sir Donald Francis Tovey (17 July 1875 – 10 July 1940) wrote that: “The opening of the second subject in the first movement is a wonderful example of the harmonic principle previously mentioned…In all music, nothing equally dramatic can be found before the D minor sonata Opus 31 No. 2 (Tempest) which is rightly regarded as marking the beginning of Beethoven’s second period.”
- Largo appassionato 3/4 D major: One of the few instances in which Beethoven uses the tempo marking “Largo”, which was the slowest such marking for a movement. The opening imitates the style of a string quartet and features a staccato pizzicato-like bass against lyrical chords. A high degree of contrapuntal thinking is evident in Beethoven’s conception of this movement. The key is the subdominant of A major, D major. Tovey wrote, “The slow movement shows a thrilling solemnity that immediately proves the identity of the pupil of Haydn with the creator of the 9th symphony.”
- Scherzo: Allegretto 3/4 A major, A minor, A major: A short and graceful movement that is in many respects similar to a minuet. This is the first instance in his 32 numbered sonatas in which the term “Scherzo” is used. A minor trio section adds contrast to the cheerful opening material of this movement.
- Rondo: Grazioso common time: A beautiful and lyrical rondo. The arpeggio that opens the repeated material becomes more elaborate at each entrance. The form of this rondo is A1-B1-A2-C-A3-B2-A4-Coda. The C section, in the parallel minor is rather agitated and stormy in comparison to the rest of the work, and is representative of the so-called “Sturm und Drang” style. A simple but elegant V7-I closes the entire work in the lower register, played piano.
- Piano Sonata No. 2 (Beethoven) on Wikipedia
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