Friday, October 7, 2011

Beethoven - Violin Sonata In C Minor, Opus 30 No. 2

Ludwig van Beethoven  wrote ten sonatas for violin and piano in 1798-1812, with the first nine written in a six year period. Sonata  No. 7 is from a set of three sonatas for violin and piano, opus 30.  The opus 30 sonatas were published in 1803 with the title Three Sonatas for the Pianoforte with the Accompaniment of Violin, a nod from Beethoven to the priorities of the past, as sonatas written as such could be played with or without the violin.  Although all 4 movements of the 2nd sonata of this set begin with the piano playing solo as it introduces the thematic material, these sonatas are by no means of the earlier type. The violin part is essential to the work, if nothing else as a contrast to the piano.
The sonata is in 4 movements:

I. Allegro con brio -  A movement of high tension and drama, the piano begins solo, and as the violin takes over the theme the piano rumbles an accompaniment. Another theme is heard in the exposition along with transition material. This sprawling exposition is not repeated. Themes are worked through at length in ther development, with snatches of material being bounced from violin to piano. Beethoven doesn't limit himself to themes heard in the exposition, as he adds a new one in the development.  After more development of the first theme in a section of transition, the recapitulation begins. After the first theme, modulation of the next theme leads to yet more working out of thematic material. The first theme begins a coda that adds to an already powerful movement. The second theme is briefly touched upon, which leads to broken octaves in the piano as the violin plays fragments of the first theme. The movement builds to the furious ending of the movement.

II. Adagio cantabile -
The piano begins the movement in A-flat major. The music slowly unwinds as the violin enters and the two instruments sing together.  A section in the minor mode leads back to the theme. As the violin slowly sings, the piano plays quiet runs until the music shifts gears and there are interruptions of runs in C major as the theme tries to regain the spotlight. After the final C major interruption, the theme returns as is summed up in the violin while the piano plays gentle runs.  Pizaccato chords in the violin lead to the final cadence.

III. Scherzo -  
A rhythmic scherzo in C major with many accents off the beat, and that has a curious modulation to E major in the second section. Beethoven hammers out an E major chord in the piano while the violin plays two E's of the same pitch at the same time on different strings:
 The trio has the two instruments playing in counterpoint. 

IV. Finale - Allegro, presto -
Rumblings from the piano that begin this movement hark back to the first movement, as does some other material.  A rondo that haas a few sections of brightness, but it mostly hammers away at the main theme.  Beethoven increases the tempo to presto in the coda as both instruments run breathless to the C minor end.

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