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Friday 10th June, 1700-1930
Annie Fischer

Rondo: Allegro comodo

The first sonata of Beethoven's Op. 14 makes a lyrical counterpoint to its predecessor, the Pathétique. Along with the second in G, it was astutely dedicated to Baroness Josefa von Braun, whose husband was court theatre director in Vienna and thus provided the key to the composer's orchestral ambitions - it was the Baron who allotted Beethoven the date and venue for the premiere of his First Symphony in 1800. The E major Sonata is one of the best documented in Beethoven's sketchbooks, which date its composition to 1798-9. Two years later he was persuaded to rearrange it for string quartet, transposing it to the key of F major.

Op. 14 No. 1 is a modest work in three movements. The first opens with a spacious theme that stretches itself upwards through an octave and contrasts with the step-by-step chromaticism of the second theme. Although not marked as such, the E minor middle movement has the character and form of a minuet, with an intimate trio in the major. The finale is an amiable rondo ('comodo' effectively translates as 'comfortable') which finds Beethoven playing with sudden dynamic changes.

Matthew Rye

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