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Sunday 5th June, 1700-1930
Peter Donohoe

Andante - Allegro
Allegro molto e vivace
Adagio con espressione
Allegro vivace - Presto

The two most pressing concerns for Beethoven in 1801 were his encroaching deafness and his preoccupation with 'a dear fascinating girl who', he wrote, 'loves me and whom I love'. This was the Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, a 16-year-old pupil of his who later in fact married another composer and moved to Italy. The effects on Beethoven of both this rejection and his deafness culminated in October 1802 in the famous 'Heiligenstadt Testament', a desperate farewell to the world, but his spirits recovered enough within the month to dispel thoughts of suicide. Something of this 'elasticity of his nature', as Beethoven's biographer Thayer referred to it, is reflected in two of the four piano sonatas he had written the year before, in 1801, the pair of Op. 27. Here he departed from the established pattern of movements in a sonata and subtitled each work 'Sonata quasi una fantasia' (sonata in the form of a fantasia). Thus No. 1, despite being outwardly in four standard movements, is more of a continuous whole, with speed- and mood-changes within movements and a more fluid approach to key, thematic development and form.

Matthew Rye

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