Beethoven and the Sonata Idea, Part 11

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Illustration by Emil Eugen Sachse, 1854

This week, David Dubal continues to lead us on a journey of discovery through individual movements of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. On this program, we hear the second movement from one of his earliest sonatas, the second movement from his very last sonata, and many others from the works that he composed in the intervening decades.

Though only two movements in length, Beethoven’s final sonata, No. 32, traverses the full range of the sonata cycle’s virtuosity and expression. After completing it, Beethoven commented that the piano is “after all an unsatisfactory instrument.” This remark reflects Beethoven’s revolutionary boundary-breaking, the way in which his compositions pushed both pianists and their instrument to the very brink of what was possible. In doing so, Beethoven found modes and degrees of expression unknown to his classical predecessors, and he gave the Western world its first taste of modern music.

Tune in on Thursday night at 8 pm or Sunday night at 10 pm for the latest installment of Beethoven and the Sonata Idea.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 2 in A Major, II. Largo appassionato
— Gerhard Oppitz, piano

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor (“Appassionata”), III. Allegro ma non troppo
— Edwin Fischer, piano

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 6 in F Major, II. Menuetto
— Seymour Lipkin, piano

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major, I. Etwas lebhaft und mit innigsten Empfindung
— Alfred Brendel, piano

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, II. Arietta
— Daniel Barenboim, piano

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 9 in E Major, II. Allegretto
— Robert Taub, piano

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 12 in A-flat Major, II. Scherzo
— Wilhelm Kempff, piano