The third instalment in our Beethoven on Board series is now available on the Online Academy and features the last of Beethoven’s Op. 2 piano sonatas. This is the grandest of the three sonatas, second in scale only to the subsequent Op. 7 in his ‘early period’. The work paves the way for Beethoven’s hallmark long phrases and substantial structure, both demanding careful planning and stamina of focus for the performer and listener alike.
Almost symphonic in its approach, combined with the solo-like piano parts akin to a piano concerto, this work explores further varying colours and sounds compared with the first two Sonatas. Following the impactful first Sonata and the hugely contrasting and somewhat humorous second, the grandeur of the third highlights the diversity of Beethoven’s early compositions.
Along with perhaps his early C minor Sonata, this work is performed more often than the other early Sonatas. The first movement, complete with its mini cadenza moment certainly commands much of the attention, but the contrasting second, culminating in the brilliant finale, keep us on our toes!
1st Mvt – Allegro con brio
The grandest of all of Beethoven’s movements to date, this first movement combines lightness and majestic texture along with some beautifully lyrical moments. The large-scale structure, with the cadenza towards the end of the movement, pre-empts his five piano concertos.
2nd Mvt – Adagio
Precise articulation written in, followed by rests within the long phrases from the outset, provides for an elusive opening. It is compelling to look at the main theme as an operatic dialogue rather than long, romantic sweeping phrases. The haunting yet tender middle section foresees the Moonlight Sonata with its use of the accompaniment line also featuring as the main melody.
3rd Mvt – Scherzo
Unmistakeably light-hearted in nature, this Scherzo movement features a contrasting, tumultuous middle section in the relative key of A minor.
4th Mvt – Allegro assai
Concluding the last of Beethoven’s three Op. 2 sonatas in a flourish, this finale surely shows the victorious side of Beethoven’s lifelong battle with ‘fate’. There are various technical challenges to overcome in order to ensure the ease of delivery required for the triumph to shine through.
The full set of seventeen videos in which Masa explores background, style, interpretation, technical challenges and practice methods for each of the four movements of this work is now available on the Online Academy. Click here to view or click here to find out more about the Online Academy. Click here to find out more about Masa’s videos featuring other Beethoven Sonatas.
Beethoven on Board
Our Beethoven on Board series will ultimately feature all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and is being filmed on board The Piano Boat. The Piano Boat is a new way of bringing classical music to audiences in and around London, surrounded by the intrigue and beauty of the canals.
The boat, Rachmaninov, is designed for and dedicated to musical events, carrying a beautiful Steinway Model A grand piano in the concert saloon. Seating 12 in an exclusive, intimate setting, it offers an experience where spectacular music is at the forefront of your experience on the canals. Click here to find out more.