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Piano Sonata No.7 in D Major Op.10 No.3

Beethoven: Sonata No.7 in D major, Op.10 No.3

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 third of the Op.10 sonatas, in D major, is perhaps the finest of the set. It begins with a fiery Presto that is so dominated by its vigorous main theme in hammering octaves that the second subject, a mere wisp of tune based on a descending phrase played three times in succession, seems little more that an afterthought. In the development section, which traverses the keys of D minor, and E flat major, the essential rhythmic character of the main theme is preserved, although its actual form is modified, with a striding motif in the bass quickly assuming prominence.

Of the magnificent D minor Largo e mesto Beethoven declared that it expressed 'a melancholy state of mind'; that it portrayed 'every subtle shade, every phrase of melancholy'.  The movement is in sonata form,  with a short and somewhat powerful coda. It is followed by an unassuming Minuet enclosing a bounding G major Trio that makes a feature of crossing hands. The sonata ends with a mercurial Rondo with three episodes,  where the urgent three-note figure out of which the main theme grows is by far the most significant motif.

Robin Golding

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