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Piano Sonata No.2 in A Major Op.2 No.2

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Piano Sonata No.2 in A Major Op.2 No.2

The first movement of the A major Sonata is dominated by its first subject, which has two distinct components: a descending motif in bare octaves, and an ascending one with contrapuntal tendencies. This theme and its offshoots provide the material for the opening and closing sections of the exposition, and entirely govern the pattern of the development section, which also falls into two clearly defined parts. The function of the second subject, a pliant, chromatic theme with an accompaniment in shimmering semiquavers, is to provide contrast, which it does by its appearance in the unorthodox key of E minor (A minor in the recapitulation), and by its propensity for quick modulation.

The Largo appassionato in D major which follows is in the form of a slow rondo, the three statements of its refrain - a broad, chordal theme supported by staccato semiquavers in the bass - being separated by two short episodes. The third movement is an agile, whimsical Scherzo, enclosing a flowing trio in A minor shot through with stabbing sforzati. The finale is an extended rondo, whose ambling refrain - with its florid incipit, subtely varied at each reappearance - pays lip service to Mozart. There is a gruff A minor episode in triplets, to which brief reference is made in the closing pages.

Robin Golding

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