View Poll Results: Which Beethoven sonatas? Vote for 2 or 3...

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  • Opus 2 #2: No. 2 in A major (1795)

    3 1.68%
  • Opus 13: No. 8 in C minor 'Pathétique' (1798)

    56 31.28%
  • Opus 26: No. 12 in A-flat major 'Funeral March' (1801)

    10 5.59%
  • Opus 27 #2: No. 14 in C-sharp minor 'Moonlight' (1801)

    45 25.14%
  • Opus 28: No. 15 in D major 'Pastoral' (1801)

    19 10.61%
  • Opus 31 #2: No. 17 in D minor 'Tempest' (1802)

    17 9.50%
  • Opus 31 #3: No. 18 in E-flat major 'The Hunt' (1802)

    11 6.15%
  • Opus 53: No. 21 in C major 'Waldstein' (1803)

    51 28.49%
  • Opus 57: No. 23 in F minor 'Appassionata' (1805)

    64 35.75%
  • Opus 81a: No. 26 in E-flat major 'Das Lebewohl' (1810)

    12 6.70%
  • Opus 101: No. 28 in A major (1816)

    13 7.26%
  • Opus 106: No. 29 in B-flat major 'Hammerklavier' (1819)

    64 35.75%
  • Opus 109: No. 30 in E major (1820)

    48 26.82%
  • Opus 110: No. 31 in A-flat major (1821)

    38 21.23%
  • Opus 111: No. 32 in C minor (1822)

    65 36.31%
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Thread: Which Beethoven Piano Sonatas?

  1. #91
    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnaboutVox View Post
    My take is that Op. 106 is a giant musical experiment, and Op. 109, 110 and 111 are the refined end-products of the master's research, Ukko!

    Op. 101, I don't know: is it truly a product of Beethoven's final period or a result of the increasingly lyrical direction he was taking prior to that (Op. 90, the Op. 96 violin duo sonata and the Op. 97 piano trio for three good examples) or a fusion of both? It is lovely, and my favourite of all Beethoven's works.
    It seems to support my delusion (that I have some idea about what Beethoven was doing) if I separate the solo piano sonatas from the rest of his output. What he did with the other forces become other trains on different tracks. So... Op. 90 is significantly different from the piano sonatas that precede it, not so different from those that come after it - until 'the elephant in the room', Op. 106.

    I agree with your take that Op. 106 is 'a giant music experiment', but I think the work contains the 'end product' of the experiment; he got where he was trying to go. The last three sonatas are expressions of that apotheosis (possibly mangling the meaning of that word).
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  3. #92
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukko View Post
    It seems to support my delusion (that I have some idea about what Beethoven was doing) if I separate the solo piano sonatas from the rest of his output. What he did with the other forces become other trains on different tracks. So... Op. 90 is significantly different from the piano sonatas that precede it, not so different from those that come after it - until 'the elephant in the room', Op. 106.

    I agree with your take that Op. 106 is 'a giant music experiment', but I think the work contains the 'end product' of the experiment; he got where he was trying to go. The last three sonatas are expressions of that apotheosis (possibly mangling the meaning of that word).
    I share your delusion. I always thought the piano sonatas were the purest channel for the composer's voice and that they were always on a different track and always ahead of his works for other forces. So we get something like the Largo e mesto in Op. 10 no. 3, chronologically an early work but from another world entirely. And then Op. 31 no. 2 as the first fully middle period work(?). Op. 90 sounds "late" to me as well.

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  5. #93
    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    I share your delusion. I always thought the piano sonatas were the purest channel for the composer's voice and that they were always on a different track and always ahead of his works for other forces. So we get something like the Largo e mesto in Op. 10 no. 3, chronologically an early work but from another world entirely. And then Op. 31 no. 2 as the first fully middle period work(?). Op. 90 sounds "late" to me as well.

    Well, at least I am not alone . Now I will stretch credibility further and suggest that the 9th Symphony leads to another expression of the apotheosis that occurred in Op. 106 in the last bars of the slow movement and the finale. It took awhile for Beethoven to create for the expanded forces.
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  6. #94
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    My favourites are both C minor Sonatas and the Appassionata. An honourable mention to Moonlight though.

  7. #95
    Senior Member arnerich's Avatar
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    I think op 101 is his most underrated and would probably be any other composer's greatest sonata. But my vote goes for op 109.
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  8. #96
    Senior Member Pugg's Avatar
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    I voted : Opus 28: No. 15 in D major 'Pastoral' /Opus 31 #3: No. 18 in E-flat major 'The Hunt'
    Opus 53: No. 21 in C major 'Waldstein' .
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  9. #97
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arnerich View Post
    I think op 101 is his most underrated and would probably be any other composer's greatest sonata. But my vote goes for op 109.
    Beethoven spoke of the Op. 101 with some amusement. In a letter to the publisher Steiner, he proposed calling the work “The Difficult-to-play Sonata” and added: “For what is difficult is also beautiful, good, great, etc. Hence everyone will realize that this is the most lavish praise that can be given, since what is difficult makes one sweat.”


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  11. #98
    Senior Member arnerich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Beethoven spoke of the Op. 101 with some amusement. In a letter to the publisher Steiner, he proposed calling the work “The Difficult-to-play Sonata” and added: “For what is difficult is also beautiful, good, great, etc. Hence everyone will realize that this is the most lavish praise that can be given, since what is difficult makes one sweat.”
    Correct me if I'm wrong but I think I read this was the ONLY sonata ever to be performed publicly during Beethoven's life and it was by an amateur pianist/banker...

    This piece of info is on wikipedia's article about op 101 but the source is "Joseph Braunstein, Liner notes to the Michael Ponti recording of Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7" which seems strange... Can anyone shed light on this?
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  12. #99
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arnerich View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong but I think I read this was the ONLY sonata ever to be performed publicly during Beethoven's life and it was by an amateur pianist/banker...
    An interesting question -- Beethoven's sonatas were performed in private salons and similar informal settings, but the idea of a public recital was barely thought of before the 1830s. I seem to remember reading the same of the Op. 101, and also that the Hammerklavier was performed publically by Czerny, though I don't have the source at hand. Did he sell tickets? Were there early-day scalpers? IMWTK!
    Last edited by KenOC; Sep-01-2016 at 08:34.


  13. #100
    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    I wouldn't have singled out Op. 101 as difficult to play compared to the other late sonatas, I wonder why he thought so? I mean it's difficult enough but it's not the Hammerklavier.

  14. #101
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isorhythm View Post
    I wouldn't have singled out Op. 101 as difficult to play compared to the other late sonatas, I wonder why he thought so? I mean it's difficult enough but it's not the Hammerklavier.
    I’m not sure, but the “difficult to play” remark may have had to do with a running joke. Supposedly a critic had remarked that the Symphony No. 7, from four years earlier and also in A major, was difficult to play. So it could have been just some back and forth joking about that connection.

    Also, most of Beethoven’s piano sonatas were thought difficult to play, which is often commented on in reviews of the time. They were sold as sheet music, and the buying audience were not professional pianists but home-bred amateurs. Anybody who has tried to play these sonatas, almost any of them, will have a lot of respect for the Viennese amateurs!
    Last edited by KenOC; Sep-01-2016 at 22:39.


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  16. #102
    Senior Member Pat Fairlea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arnerich View Post
    I think op 101 is his most underrated and would probably be any other composer's greatest sonata. But my vote goes for op 109.
    I completely agree with you regarding Op101 (currently playing in background, courtesy of Mr Brendel). It's a remarkably taut, coherent piece that runs the gamut of human emotion without once straying into maudlin or obvious. The Adagio 3rd movement is simply beautiful then the 1st movement 1st subject comes back as a bridge into a final Allegro that seems firmly rooted in the Classical tradition until it takes the theme for a walk in fascinating and innovative ways. Great stuff.

    I would put in a word of support for Op110 as well, especially the outer movements.

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  18. #103
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    Where are the 'Tempest' fans? Also, I'm missing the fourth sonata.

  19. #104
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    In real time, I still love the Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Opus 54; Beethoven at his wacky, quirky best, ESPECIALLY as performed by Sviatoslav Richter as the filler to his recording with Charles Munch/BSO of the Beethoven First Piano Concerto.
    Last edited by hpowders; May-20-2017 at 01:22.

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  21. #105
    Senior Member Tchaikov6's Avatar
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    I voted for Waldstein, Appassionata, and Hammerklavier. Not just my three favorite Beethoven sonatas, but among my top 10 solo piano works as well.

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