Sunday, 9 November 2008

192. Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata in F minor, op.57, "Appassionata" (1805)


Title: The Complete Piano Sonatas
Performer: Daniel Barenboim
Year: 1966
Length: 27 minutes


With this sonata we complete the great triumvirate of extremely famous sonatas by Beethoven which started with the Pathetique, moved on to the Moonlight and ends here in the Appassionata. Interestingly they all represent different stages in Beethoven's development.

Even if these three are the most famous sonatas by Beethoven, this is not to say that there are no amazing sonatas still to come, fame is not the only criteria for quality, actually I would argue that fame is no criteria for quality whatsoever. People, in general, have crap taste. Still the Appassionata deserves its fame, despite its tacky moniker, not attributed by Beethoven.

In fact the erotic passion that the title seems to suggest is conspicuously absent from this, this is more of a rage-filled passion, it is passion in its wider sense, not in its common sense. This is the most aggressive Beethoven sonata up until now, he would become even more aggressive later, but the Appassionata is a work of turmoil first and foremost. The whole ambience of the thing is oppressive, depressive and angry, peppered with a lot of beautiful moments. Two years after the Eroica symphony the Romantic style is set in stone. This is indispensable.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Maxim Gorky recorded that Vladimir Lenin once said, “I know the Appassionata inside out and yet I am willing to listen to it every day. It is wonderful, ethereal music. On hearing it I proudly, maybe somewhat naively, think: See! people are able to produce such marvels!” He then winked, laughed and added sadly: “I’m often unable to listen to music, it gets on my nerves, I would like to stroke my fellow beings and whisper sweet nothings in their ears for being able to produce such beautiful things in spite of the abominable hell they are living in."

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, writer-director of the 2006 film The Lives of Others, has said that his movie was inspired by the anecdote that Lenin loved the "Appassionata" but refused to listen to it because it deterred him from the Communist revolution. (The film tells the story of a Stasi agent who has a moral awakening when coming into contact with music and art.) The characters in the movie even discuss the Appassionata/Lenin story.

Barenboim plays a bit of the Appassionata:

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