BEETHOVEN Ludwig van, Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor Op.111

Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato
Arietta: Adagio molto, semplice e cantabile

The final sonata in Beethoven’s late trilogy was composed in 1821–2, straight after Op.110, and it was dedicated to his pupil and patron Archduke Rudolph, familiar as the dedicatee of the ‘Archduke’ Trio, and also the person to whom Beethoven inscribed the Missa solemnis, work on which was interrupted to compose the three late piano sonatas. Op.111 is in two movements, the first a turbulent and tempestuous Allegro preceded by a dramatic introduction notable for its extensive use of diminished seventh chords. The driving intensity of the main Allegro finds a moment of repose with the arrival of the second theme, in A flat major. At the end of the movement it is as if all rage has been spent as the music works towards a serene pianissimo conclusion in C major. The second movement is based on a hymn-like theme heard at the start of the movement and treated to an astoundingly diverse series of variations and a coda drenched in trills that seem to take the music to a strange and wonderful expressive world. Alfred Brendel has said of this movement that ‘perhaps nowhere else in piano literature does mystical experience feel so immediately close at hand’.

Nigel Simeone © 2015


Support from individuals is vital to our work.
Your gifts help us engage the very best in UK and international talent in our concerts, and to run our annual Sheffield Chamber Music Festival.