Sonata N.18 in E-flat Major op.31 n.3
The Sonatas N.18 E-Flat Major "The Hunt"; N.19 G-Minor
N.20 G-Major "Two Easy Sonatas" and N.21 C-Major "Waldstein" By
Last Sonata of the series opus 31, "La Chasse", was composed in 1802
and first published by Naegeli, Zürich in 1804 with the opus number 33.
Later, when published by Cappi in Vienna in 1805, it has been included
in the series opus 31.
All three Sonatas opus 31 are dedicated to the Countess of Browne.
After the tumultuous, "Tempest" (opus 31 n.2), this Sonata gets back to
the spirit of the first number of the same opus (Sonata op.31 N.1 in G
Major) and even to the joyful amiability of the Sonata "Pastorale"
Some commentators even thought of naming it (another) "Pastorale".
Finally, another title stood with it: "Wachtelschlag-Sonate" ("[the
Sonata of the] call of the quail").
Fortuitously, Beethoven seems to allude to the particular call of this
bird with a typical melodic and rhythmical shape. Moreover, he makes it
the theme of the first movement. It is heard again, but under some
"disguise", during the Scherzo and the Finale as well.
Called "another Pastorale" by Jörg Demus, this Sonata is undoubtedly,
again, drawing from Beethoven's love for the nature. However, Demus
pursues, "more a series of feelings [generated by it] than a
[descriptive] painting of the nature". This description was used by
Beethoven himself, later, for his Pastorale Symphony.
To each of those "scenes" (movements) a descriptive subtitle may be
appropriately added, if wanted. "Birds in the forest"; "Stampede at
dawn"; "A rustic song"...
On the other hand, "La Chasse", (The Hunt) is a well known title for
this Sonata, specially in French speaking countries.
Few other interesting points: this 18th. Sonata is the only one, in
Beethoven's so-called "second-style", featuring the traditional four
There is no proper slow movement, but, instead, between the two outer
fast movements are a Scherzo and a Menuet. This is very rare.
Jörg Demus noted, the succession of the last three movements: Scherzo -
Menuet - and the Finale (resembles to a Tarantella) makes it look like
Three movements, the first, the second (Scherzo) and the last (Presto),
have a clear Sonata-form by themselves.
The Sonata does not start "straight" in the key or in the tempo. An
ambiguous chord (5/6 on A-flat) and a motivic cell, both named "a
question mark" by Bernstein, which are only the first part of the full
theme, are exposed and repeated.
This "question mark" like theme is followed by a series of chords
moving chromatically at the bass and slowing down to a stop on the
sixth-fourth chord of the tonic.
Finally a real full harmonic cadenza affirms the key of E-flat Major,
but immediately it runs to another exposition of the "question mark"
one octave higher, with, again, the same slowing down of the beat and
the same harmonic progression, but this time spread into a larger
Finally, both the tempo and the harmony are set and the full theme is
exposed on bar 18. Large intervals and, in the repetition, the first
note being replaced by a trill indicates a clear reference to kind of
The lyrical second theme keeps this light and slightly parodic aspect.
The development takes on with the first theme encompassing several
keys. An ornamental re-exposition brings the joyful and strong Coda.
II. Scherzo: Allegretto vivace
It is a large scale Scherzo, made in the purest Sonata form. Its tempo
indication: Allegretto vivace calls for a lively and light touch.
The beautiful right hand melody is obviously thought for the French
horn section of an orchestra, while the staccato left hand, referring
to pizzicato basses and cellos, is more of a kind of cavalcade.
Nervously repeating 32nd and rolling 64th notes as well as sudden
fortissimo chords preceded by slowing down diminuendos make this
movement extremely flamboyant.
III. Menuetto: Moderato e grazioso
At that time Beethoven already abandoned the Menuet form. However, he
will "look back to it" in this Sonata, and even make a kind of
"remembrance of a Menuet", later, in the first movement of his Sonata
in F Major opus 54.
This is a shorter movement featuring a hunched up theme in a very
narrow range, like a rustic romance. In a strong contrast, its Trio
features large jumps of chords in a capricious appearance. Saint-Saens
will use that theme of the trio in his Variations on a Theme by
IV. Presto con fuoco
Again a movement in
the Sonata form, this fast dancing and jumping movement presents in
many places fine and subtle metrical displacements. Right from the
beginning the accompaniment figure of the left hand, seems to be
displaced in regard to the melody at the right.
This Finale is a brilliant, large scale Presto filled with harmonic,
rhythmic and instrumental novelties.
Sonatas N.19 in G Minor op.49 n.1 and N.20 in G Major
These "easy sonatas" for the piano, as they are called by the composer,
were probably composed, according to the sketchbooks, around 1797 and
1798 for teaching purposes.
They were published much later, in 1805 in Vienna.
The style is one of the very young Beethoven and they may be called
"sonatinas". They follow the lines of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and
Haydn. Each of them has only two movements.
Sonata N.21 in C Major op.53 "Waldstein"
This famous sonata is dedicated to Comte Ferdinand von Waldstein
who gave support to the composer in Bonn. It was drafted in 1803 and
finished in 1804. Beethoven introduced it to the publishers Breitkopf
und Hartel, who rejected it, the Sonata finally get published in 1805
It was planned in three distinct movements with one Andante with
variations in the middle. This was later dropped by the composer who
published this Andante separately: Andante in F Major (WoO 57). Instead
he composed an Introduction to the final Rondo for this Sonata.
Being composed simultaneously with the first version of Fidelio, the
Waldstein-Sonata follows, in its style, the last two numbers of opus
31. It displays perfectly the so-called second style of Beethoven,
featuring extensive and audacious development sections with a very
brilliant and virtuoso keyboard technique.
Together with the name of the dedicatee, the Sonata is also known,
specially in French speaking countries, under the title "Aurore"
(dawn). The origins of this title is obscure, probably due to some
other publisher. Several explications for this title was given, none
very convincing. For example: "a dawn of an ideal then unknown in the
music" (Claude Rostand).
Anyhow, it is interesting to note that Beethoven from then on composes
almost exclusively for the most skilled and accomplished performers.
This evolution can be set in parallel with the changes and progresses
made in the making of the instrument. The "piano-forte" has been
greatly improved, in Vienna by Stein and Streicher, in France by Erard,
in England by Broadwood. Many technical, (i.e. action-related)
improvements took place and the sound possibilities expanded greatly.
The last movement of this Sonata stands apart by the expansion of the
Rondo form which makes its central core.
The rondo-form, already expanded in many earlier Sonatas makes here not
only the apex of the work, but also the summit of the genre, it reaches
levels never attempted before.
I. Allegro con brio
The first movement reveals a large sonata-form. It is interesting to
note that the two main themes are not presented one following the other
but instead, the first one is exposed twice thus delaying the entrance
of the second theme up to bar 35. Furthermore, the first theme itself
does not appear as a theme but rather as a "collection of (first)
themes" (Jörg Demus).
The bright and virtuoso first movement shows many interesting harmonic
progressions. In the beginning, a particular, non-classical, harmonic
progression uses a bass line going down chromatically from C to G, to
bring the first fermata at the dominant key (G). Then the first theme
is re-exposed this time with alternating tremolo figures. An overly
chromatic right hand motive is moving towards the mediant key of E
Major, passing through E Minor.
This key of E Major, in a context of C Major, produces an overly bright
sound for the exposition of the second theme: "dolce e molto legato".
It is almost a liturgical second theme, shining through the key of E
Major, and in A Major during the re-exposition.
The number of tonal regions visited in the development section with
vast arpeggios is overwhelming. It may be interesting to note that in
this section Beethoven visits almost all keys with flats. According to
Jörg Demus, this has an effect of balancing the exposition and
re-exposition sections which are moving in keys with sharps.
II. Introduzione: Adagio molto - Rondo: Allegretto moderato, Prestissimo
The short "introduction", only 28 bars, replaced the extended Andante
Beethoven composed for this Sonata in the first place.
This Adagio starts as if it was a vast slow movement. But its melodic
momentum is exceedingly short.
It starts again three times and when, finally it does get momentum,
when its melody really expands, it is "stuck" at the apex and falls
rapidly to a stop which will beautifully prepare the entrance of the
The last note G (with dominant harmonization) of the introduction will
change colour and become the first note (with a tonic harmonization) of
The pianissimo theme of the Rondo has a very particular swinging
between C Major and Minor alternatively sounding E-natural and E-flat.
This "interplay" of lighting produces a unique "claire-obscure" effect.
Two large intermediary sections one in A Minor, the other C Minor and
A-flat Major are all powerful and brilliant. A large "bridge" with
evaporative arpeggios in many foreign keys will stop on the dominant
chord of G and then jump to the short but even more brilliant Coda,
Note the shortening of the theme by the tempo acceleration and by
metrics (2/2 instead of 2/4).
The trill in Beethoven is a very particular subject. Originally the
trill is an ornamentation and its origins are traced well before the
emergence of the piano.
From this Sonata, the trill will acquire its "Beethoven-ian"
significance: a particular "sound-effect".
According to Claude Helffer, the original idea of a trill as a
"vibrating sound" in Beethoven's piano works, emerges here for the
first time, clearly and persistently. It will appear on almost all
works by Beethoven for the piano composed from then on and it may be
elongated to entire pages as a particular "timbre" (Andre
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