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Artur Pizarro - The Beethoven Sonata Cycle
Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2 No. 1
Menuetto: Allegretto

History has it that Beethoven held little store for the tuition he received from Haydn following the former's arrival in Vienna in 1792. Haydn, though, regarded him as a totally devoted pupil, who, he predicted, would 'in time become one of the greatest musical artists in Europe', and he was proud to call himself his teacher.

During the composition of the three sonatas of Op. 2 Beethoven was in fact receiving tuition in counterpoint from Albrechtsberger, while Haydn was away in London, but he did give Haydn the honour of dedicating them to him on his return. They are the works of a pianist who was a distinguished and honoured guest in the 'salons' of Viennese society. No. 1 (1795), with its virtuosic and brilliant manner (particularly in the finale), shows Beethoven revelling in his skill at the keyboard.

Despite that, being the first of the cycle, it is also the one that most budding young pianists have attempted in their day, and much of the first movement is texturally transparent, with only two main voices.

Structurally it is straightforward, with a pair of easily identifiable principal themes: the opening arpeggio idea and its more legato inversion over bobbing quavers. The Adagio moves to the tonic major key, F, and is typical of Beethoven's slow movements in which a simple, unadorned melody is subjected to ever greater expansion and elaboration through runs of fast notes and extended ornaments. The straightforward but delightful minuet is followed by an exhilarating finale, with triplets rarely letting up their incessant energetic runs.

Artur Pizarro
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