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Piano Sonata No.5 in C Minor Op.10 No.1

Beethoven: Sonata No.5 in C minor, Op.10 No.1

The three sonatas forming Beethoven's Op.10 date from 1796-8 and were published by Joseph Eder in Vienna in September 1798 with a dedication to Countess Anna Margarete von Browne. She was the German wife of an Irish officer serving in Vienna to whom Beethoven had dedicated his three string trios, Op.9, in March the same year.

The first of them is characteristic of Beethoven's C minor mood, and its first movement is also vividly reminiscent of Mozart's sonata in the same key, K.457, composed in 1784. The music is thoroughly dramatic: imperious and restive in the angular flourishes and the heavy suspensions of its first theme; meltingly lyrical in the sweeping phrases of its cantabile second subject (in E flat major). The short development begins with a reference to the rhythmic motif of the opening bars, but is mainly concerned with the sighing phrases of the transition, coupled with the second subject's 'Alberti' bass.

The second movement, a noble Adagio molto in A flat major, is in sonata form, without development, but with both its first and second subjects varied during the course of exposition and recapitulation, and with a coda based on yet another variant of the first theme. The sonata ends with a Prestissimo finale in sonata form. There are two sharply contrasted themes - the first in impetuous octaves, the second solidly harmonised - a minuscule development based entirely on the opening phrase, and a brief coda which gives a lingering glance at the second subject.

Robin Golding

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