As we discovered in the post on the Menuet in op.2 No. 1, Beethoven and Menuets were not really made for each other. Thus, from now on that movement is now called Scherzo. There is a strange exception, in his 18th sonata, op. 31 No. 3, he includes BOTH a Scherzo and a Menuet. We’ll get to that sonata in…well, a while.
If you remember, the Menuet in the first movement started like this:
He has a certain formula which he likes, namely to start with a motive with the right hand, a short, very short motive:
And then he puts the accompaniment (which is just a single chord) “too late”, almost like the left hand isn’t alert enough to be on the first beat:
And then, he finishes the part of the phrase with the hands finding themselves playing nicely together:
In the second sonata, he does exactly the same formula:
And at 0.03 he plays the hands together.
This “not-getting-the-hands-together” Beethoven will play with at a maximum in the above-mentioned sonata, op. 31 No. 3. Now this is REALLY like a poor pianist just not being able to play chords with both hands together:
After that, Beethoven puts in an absurd amount of scales being played with both hands, exactly the same scales and perfectly together (if you’re the pianist here, you’d better know how to play those scales technically well) to make a humorous point:
But back to our Scherzo here: up to the end of the first section, the “A-section”, those hands still refuse to play together, now kind of angrily:
And after that, the Trio, the “B-section”, which is a contrast just like in the first sonata’s menuet. Here, the music feels like they glue the two hands together. The contrast comes also from it being in minor, of course.
The Finale is so incredibly different from the finale of the first sonata. Instead of a tempest, we get a lovely “feel-good”-theme. This movement is a Rondo, and I just put up a little discourse on the term Rondo in the Dictionary.
I just love how the movement starts, with a HUGE arpeggio (also in the dictionary now). It’s like Beethoven is expressing his love for the piano, for the sound of the piano, for the ability of the piano to reach all registers in one lovely sweep…
And this theme…it is just beautiful, warm, elegant, everything we could want a melody to be:
Then of course, the B-section is very different. Frustrated, like an organism breathing too fast and irregularly:
But, Beethoven finds his way back to the main theme, and I like this part. It goes down, down…
And then, like a blooming flower it goes up, kind of opening up, and we are back to our lovely team.
Beethoven loves the way you can go from high to low and back on a piano, doesn’t he?