In tempo d'un menuetto
Allegretto - Piü allegro
It might seem surprising to find this little two-movement sonata sandwiched between two of Beethoven's grandest offerings, the Waldstein and the Appassionata. It is true that it rarely gets performed outside complete cycles of the sonatas, but there's nothing conventional or even low-key about it, certainly compared to his earlier two-movement works. Along with the Triple Concerto, it was sketched in 1804 seemingly as relief from the troublesome time he was having writing his opera Leonore, the first version of Fidelio.
The first movement is 'in the tempo of a minuet', but has little in the way of dance-like gentility, once the opening phrase is out of the way. It has more the character of a rondo, with increasingly thunderous episodes separating the presentations of the main theme. The second movement is a moto perpetuo, with barely a break in its run of semiquavers. Variety and development are provided by a constantly changing harmonic palette, since, apart from the odd chord and octave doubling, the music is in only two parts throughout. Only with the faster coda does the texture fill out more substantially.