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PIANO SONATA NO.24 IN F SHARP, OP.78

Wednesday 8th June, 0000-0700
Maurizio Pollini

Thursday 9th June, 1700-1930
Nikolai Demidenko

Adagio cantabile - Allegro ma non troppo
Allegro vivace

Beethoven dedicated this Sonata to Countess Therese Brunsvik, who was once thought of as a leading contender for being the composer's mysterious "Immortal Beloved". Yet by the time these enigmatic references to a lover had begun to appear in his correspondence and conversation books, Therese had been out of his life for a couple of years and, indeed, it is she who seems to have been the more disappointed party when their relationship came to nothing in 1809. He, meanwhile, was more besotted with her widowed sister Josephine. Once Beethoven failed to respond to Therese's love for him, she found solace in a life caring for disadvantaged children and survived to the ripe old age of 86. The composer nevertheless treasured the portrait she gave him on her departure, inscribed with the words "To the unique genius, to the great artist, to the good man". But as the Beethoven biographer Marion M Scott commented, his Sonata was "a far more beautiful portrait than the painting".

It is certainly one of his most delightful works, featuring two of his sunniest movements and seemingly worlds away from the storms of the Appassionata , his previous sonata composed five years earlier. The first movement has a brief four-bar preface marked Adagio cantabile, less a traditional slow introduction than an upbeat to the sonata-form Allegro that follows. The vigorous finale makes great play with the contrasting gestures of its opening theme: a call to attention and a throwaway scalic idea.

Matthew Rye

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