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Piano Sonata No.3 in C Major Op.2 No.3

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op.2, No. 3

Although Beethoven wrote at least three sonatas during his early years in Bonn, the fact that he did not give them opus numbers shows that he did not consider them as part of the great series of 32 that began with the three sonatas published in Vienna by Artaria as Op. 2 in March 1796 and dedicated to Haydn. These stand out immediately as being on a much larger scale than their predecessors.

The third of the Op. 2 sonatas is in many ways the most pianistically written of the three. The first movement, which is other wise in normal sonata form (with a second subject in G minor that Beethoven took form the first movement of a Piano Quartet in C major composed in Bonn in 1875), bursts out into a string of arpeggios up and down the keyboard immediately after the first theme has been announced, and with a short written-out cadenza included in the coda.

The Adagio is a kind of slow rondo, with a refrain in E major and a more animated episode, with much hand-crossing, in E minor, which reappears in E major after the second statement of the refrain and after a dramatic remainder of the sonata’s basic key. Next comes the second of Beethoven’s sonata scherzos (Op. 2, No.1 has a Minuet): a playfully contrapuntal movement with a surging Trio in A minor and a coda. The finale is another rondo, with a humorous theme in ascending triads as its refrain and with two contrasting episodes: the first beginning with a strongly accented theme in G major (moving to G minor) and the second a gentle, arching theme in F major. The movement ends with a cadenza-like coda based on the refrain.

Robin Golding

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