Saturday, 10 January 2009

226. Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata in A flat major, op. 110 (1821)


Title: Klaviersonaten Nos. 27, 28, 30 & 31
Performer: Emil Gilels
Year: 1985
Length: 22 minutes


Another beautiful little gem of a piano sonata by Beethoven. And one that is as emotive and beautiful as humorous, the two great long movements at the beginning and end sandwich a funny little scherzo in the middle which breaks the tension in a funny and endearing way.

The last movement, as in so many of Beethoven's works, is the real highlight here, again a contrapunctual work of the type he has been exploring since Hammerklavier, this one sounds more forward looking than his previous efforts, which were very much looking back at classical and even baroque forms of counterpoint, while still being modern.

The three great late sonatas, 30, 31 and 32 contrast beautifully with the long epic of Hammerklavier in a very deliberate way. And they should all really be seen together as part of one artistic effort. More than this they are amazing, experimental and virtuosistic works of great beauty.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In the summer of 1819 Moritz Schlesinger, from the Schlesinger firm of music publishers based in Berlin, met Beethoven and asked to purchase some compositions. After some negotiation by letter, and despite the publisher's qualms about Beethoven's retaining the rights for publication in England and Scotland, Schlesinger agreed to purchase 25 songs for 60 ducats and three piano sonatas at 90 ducats (Beethoven had originally asked 120 ducats for the sonatas). In May 1820 Beethoven agreed, the songs (op. 108) already being available, and he undertook to deliver the sonatas within three months. These three sonatas are the ones now known as opp. 109–111.

Beethoven was prevented from completing all three of the promised sonatas on schedule by factors including an attack of jaundice; Op. 109 was completed and delivered in 1820, but correspondence shows that Op. 110 was still not ready by the middle of December 1821, and the completed autograph score bears the date December 25 1821. Presumably the sonata was delivered shortly thereafter, since Beethoven was paid the 30 ducats for this sonata in January 1822.

Very Young Glen Gould playing the end of the third movement:

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