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Piano Sonata No.6 in F Major Op.10 No.2

Beethoven: Sonata No.6 in F major, Op.10 No.2

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.

Although slighter than its two companions, the second of the Op.10 sonatas, in F major, is a remarkable little work, full of capricious touches and gruff humour; Beethoven himself was understandably fond of it. The exposition of the first movement, whose first subject begins with a whimsical gesture and continues with a lyrical arching phrase, and whose second subject (in C major) - a broad ascending theme above a rumbling semiquaver accompaniment - follows without any transition, exhibits a marked antipathy to the tonic key. The recapitulation begins, with supreme audacity, in D major. The 'development' makes no reference to the first or second subjects, but occupies itself with the three descending notes that clinch the end of the exposition.

Next comes a scherzo-like Allegretto in F minor, based on a theme in stealthy octaves; there is a rich and sonorous 'trio' in D flat major, after which the 'scherzo' is repeated in an elaborated form. The finale reverses the principle of the first movement by following a succinct exposition (with only one subject) with a closely thematic, and partly contrapuntal, development section, a recapitulation that is so varied as to be almost an extension of the development, and a coda.

Robin Golding

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