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PIANO SONATA NO. 21 IN C, OP. 53 (WALDSTEIN)

Wednesday 8th June, 2050-2400
Alfred Brendel

Allegro con brio
Adagio molto
Allegretto moderato - Prestissimo

Beethoven's association with Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel, Count Waldstein, goes back to the composer's days in Bonn, where they were both connected to the Electoral court. It may well have been Waldstein's connections in Vienna that gave Beethoven the opportunity to go to the Austrian capital in 1792 to study with Haydn: "With the help of assiduous labour," goes Waldstein's famous farewell note, "you shall receive Mozart's spirit from Haydn's hands."

A little over a decade later, Beethoven repaid the Count with the dedication of one of his greatest piano sonatas. His compositional skills had risen rapidly since he had arrived in Vienna (though with little thanks to Haydn, as things turned out) and by the early years of the 19th century he was breaking new ground with every work. In 1803 he wrote his most revolutionary symphony to date, No. 3, the Eroica , and the Waldstein Sonata followed later the same year. As well as pursuing the example of the Symphony in terms of greater scale, it marked a new era in Beethoven's pianistic writing following his acquisition of a new érard piano with its extended range.

Despite the novel nature of the Sonata's content, here are the usual three movements: a lively, dramatic Allegro con brio, a mysterious, moody Adagio (Beethoven originally wrote an Andante, which was published separately as the Andante favori) and a spacious rondo.

Matthew Rye

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