Opus 2 no.2 Piano Sonata in A major

1. Allegro vivace
2. Largo appassionato
3. Scherzo. Allegretto
4. Rondo. Grazioso
(Claudio Arrau)
Glenn Gould
I. Allegro vivace 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. Реприза не содержит коды и часть заканчивается тихо и скромно. II. Largo appassionato 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. III. Scherzo: Allegretto 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. IV. Rondo: Grazioso Красивое и лиричное рондо. The arpeggio that opens the repeated material becomes more elaborate at each entrance. Структура рондо: A1-B1-A2-C-A3-B2-A4-Coda. The C section 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.
In 1792 Beethoven had travelled from Bonn to Vienna to take lessons with Joseph Haydn. When his first piano sonatas were published in March 1796 he was by far no pupil anymore but a reputable composer, and particularly a renowned piano virtuoso on his first (and only) concert journey to Prague, Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin. Haydn not only taught Beethoven counterpoint, he also introduced the young composer into society. In December 1795 Haydn invited Beethoven to play a solo piano concert in one of his concerts. For Beethoven that was a big chance. A better way to make him known was hardly possible. Haydn was one of the greatest composers alive. Performing in one of Haydn's concerts as a soloist playing his own music was a great honour and an indication of Haydn's respect for Beethoven (although their pupil-teacher relationship was characterised by many ups and downs). When Beethoven dedicated his first three piano sonatas to Haydn only three months later, he demonstrated his gratitude for Haydn's public support. (beethoven-haus-bonn.de)
Beethoven dedicated the three sonatas of Op. 2 to Franz Joseph Haydn, with whom he studied composition during his first two years in Vienna. All three borrow material from Beethoven's Piano Quartets, WoO 36, Nos. 1 and 3, possibly of 1785. The sonatas were premièred in the fall of 1795 at the home of Prince Carl Lichnowksy, with Haydn in attendance, and were published in March 1796 by Artaria in Vienna. The sonatas of Op. 2 are very broadly conceived, each with four movements instead of three, creating a format like that of a symphony through the addition of a minuet or scherzo. The second movements are slow and ponderous, typical of this period in Beethoven's career. Scherzos appear as third movements in Nos. 2 & 3, although they are not any faster than earlier minuets by Haydn. They are, however, longer than their precursors. Beethoven's experimentation with tonal material within Classical-era frameworks begins with his earliest published works, as the first movement of the Op. 2, No. 2 sonata clearly demonstrates. After establishing the key of A major through a fragmentary, disjointed theme, Beethoven begins the transition to the dominant. When the second theme arrives, however, it is on the dominant minor (E minor), implying the keys of G major and C major. This implication is realized at the beginning of the development section, which is on C major. In the recapitulation, one would expect the transition to lead to the tonic, but here it suggests, again, C major through its dominant. At the moment the second theme arrives, Beethoven creates a deceptive cadence by moving to A minor, thus resolving the second theme to the tonic. Sustained chords over a pizzicato-like bass part at the opening of the second movement could have been realized only on the most recent pianos of the time. In this movement, Beethoven borrowed material from the Piano Quartet, WoO 36, No. 3. Beethoven retains the formal principles of the minuet for his third movement, an Allegretto Scherzo. There are, however, distinctly Beethovenian features, such as the second theme of the Scherzo being only a slight modification of the first theme, as well as the extension of the second section. In a reference to the key relationships of the first movement, Beethoven sets the Trio in A minor. In the Rondo finale Beethoven applies some sonata-form procedures to the traditional rondo format and flexes his variation muscles. The overall structure is ABACAB'AC'A. Episode B touches on the dominant to such a degree that its return is rewritten to stress the tonic, while episode C is set in A minor, a key which is abandoned in favor of A major on its return. (All Music Guide)