Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata No.22 in F, Opus 54
In Tempo díun Menuetto
This curious sonata dates from 1804, the year that brought the Waldstein and Appassionata Sonatas and the completion of the Eroica Symphony, which so decisively marked off the new century from the old. The sonata is curious in that it consists of a minuet and a toccata, not at all what one would expect in a two-movement work under the sonata label. Beethoven was ever one to make his own rules.
The minuet has two subjects, the first a graceful theme in dotted rhythm and the second a sharply contrasting passage of loud staccato triplets. These begin as octaves in both hands in contrary motion, then change to sixths in the right hand against narrower intervals in the left. The two subjects undergo variations of harmony, pitch and phrasing until a final recall of the firstís basic idea is interrupted by fierce chordal triplets that fade to a quiet close.
After this movement in triple time the finale is an Allegretto in 2/4. Although it is not so named, it has the character of a toccata, defined as a piece meant to display the playerís touch. There are two main sections, each marked to be repeated and both consisting of even semiquaver figuration. After the second and longer section the sonata concludes with a quicker coda.
© Eric Mason