Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas

Posted by: Ganddalf

Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 02:28 AM

I always wanted to play one of the Beethoven sonatas well enough for public performance. Being an amateur I decided to avoid the most popular and well-known sonatas. Not a problem, really, since all of the Beethoven sonatas are great pieces and very interesting to work with.
After a lot of trial and error, I went for Op.10 no.3. Maybe I'm wrong, but this sonata seems to be somehow neglected. Musically it is very interesting, and I find it just as brilliant as the Patethique. The first movement, indeed, has much in common with Op.13, the development part being the highlight. The second movement is an astoundingly beautiful Largo containing a short "arioso" that appears only once.
The third movement is also very charming, and both of the middle movements could very well be performed as individual pieces. The Rondo finale is the movement that gives me most technical challenges, but large sections of it are relatively easy, meaning that it is possible to concentrate the effort on the difficult points.

I may consider to start working on another Beethoven sonata in addition to 10/3. Do any of you have any favourites among the less frequently performed sonatas?
Posted by: pianojerome

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 03:11 AM

Op. 10 No. 2 is very fun/funny. I enjoyed working on it and analyzing it very much.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 05:15 AM

Some of my favorites that are not a lot performed are ops. 31/3, 101, 7, 27/1.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 07:52 AM

Op. 10/3 is very popular at colleges and universities, and shows up on a lot of auditions. It's a great piece, and has one of my favorite rondos of all time.

I also agree with vvanrij - each of those sonatas is wonderful. I'm sure 101 would be played more if it were easier (I've played it, and it's a NIGHTMARE.) 31/3 is really cute, and the slow movement of 7 is sublime.
Posted by: Ganddalf

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 08:38 AM

If I had the capacity, I would have played Op.101, but it is out of question due to its technical difficulty. I admire everyone who can play it well, and it is a most beautiful composition.

The two Sonatas I considered along with Op.10/3 when I made my choice were Op.2 no.3 and Op.22. I like both of them very much, but Op.2/3 is too difficult, and I found that I simply liked 10/3 better than Op.22.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 10:29 AM

Originally Posted By: vvanrij
Some of my favorites that are not a lot performed are ops... 27/1.

It was the last Beethoven sonata I learned before the Op. 53. Fascinating piece, and -dare I say it- more interesting than its sibling.

I agree about the difficulties of Op 101. My prof often complained about an especially awkward moment at the start of the final mov't. As for the Op. 22, it is certainly off the beaten path, though I did hear it once in concert- and not part of a complete Beethoven cycle. But it has always been the odd one out for me. Like all the Beethoven sonatas, it is supremely well written, but I hope I'll be forgiven if I just don't find the melodic material very distinguished. IMO of course.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 11:09 AM

Wow you played 101, 27/1 and 53, I'm so jealous haha. And you are just 5 years older than me, you must have a lot of talent (and put in hard work of course!). I hope one day I can say the same, for now, my main focus is perfecting 79 and 14/1, and learning op2/1.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 11:38 AM

Originally Posted By: vvanrij
Wow you played 101, 27/1 and 53, I'm so jealous haha.

Sorry, didn't mean to imply that I played the Op. 101, just that my prof complained about its difficulties when he played it! The Op. 53 was the last Beethoven sonata I learned (and probably the hardest piano piece I ever brought to performance level) before switching to organ and church music.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 11:41 AM

Well the Waldstein is still very much out of my reach, but my goal is still to be able to play all 32 beethoven sonata's one day (even if that will mean the hammerklavier at 50% of the speed :))
Posted by: 8ude

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 02:32 PM

If you're dead set on doing a sonata, then some good advice has already been given. But there are some other lesser-known works of Beethoven you may want to consider. For instance, the Polonaise Op 89, Fantasy Op 77, and Andante Favori are all rather nice, technically accessible, and in my opinion, underperformed. Some of his sets of variations are quite nice as well, as are the sets of bagatelles.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 02:51 PM

opus 39, zwei praeludien
Opus 51, rondo's
Opus 129, alla ingharese quasi un capriccio

Yes beethoven wrote many more masterpieces besides his sonata's.

Andras Schiff included the Andante Favori on his Beethoven Sonata cd's, which I highly recommend!
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 02:56 PM

Originally Posted By: 8ude
Some of his sets of variations are quite nice as well...
That's a good point, 8ude. I think we tend to forget (or at least I do) that there's considerable life after the Diabelli, Eroica and C minor Variations. I'm thinking of the delightful sets in F (Op. 34) and D (Op.76) which may not be so heaven-storming, but at least they're within the grasp of a non-concert level pianist. Also don't forget the variations on God save the King and Rule Britannia. I suspect they were publisher's commissions, but any Beethoven is always going to have something of interest... and that is certainly the case here!
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 03:00 PM

Btw, is it just me, or do others also hear a bit of Rule Britannia in Op78 second movement.
Posted by: buck2202

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 03:09 PM

Originally Posted By: vvanrij
Andras Schiff included the Andante Favori on his Beethoven Sonata cd's, which I highly recommend!

Alfred Brendel did as well.
Posted by: mr_roberts_z

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 03:34 PM

One of the best of all the sonatas that no one ever plays is 31/1 in G major.

Not only are all three movements really awesome, but the whole sonata is extremely fun to play (especially the rondo).
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 03:46 PM

Yes, on interpretation I agree with Andras Schiff. The piece is humorous, first the 2 hands that can't sync, and then that adagio with the ridiculous ornaments and opera like runs and bass lines. Its well fun, but not easy.
Posted by: eric_626

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 04:16 PM

The Andante favori definitely is a great non-sonata choice. Though I personally find it harder than it appears to be. It gets pretty tough in the coda with the octaves and double-notes, although they don't have to be played fast. A very beautiful piece though.
Posted by: ProdigalPianist

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 04:23 PM

Originally Posted By: 8ude
, the Polonaise Op 89, Fantasy Op 77, and Andante Favori are all rather nice, technically accessible, and in my opinion, underperformed. Some of his sets of variations are quite nice as well, as are the sets of bagatelles.


Hey! I am working on that Polonaise. My HS piano teacher introduced it to me but I was "Queen of the first 2 pages" back then and that's as far as I got frown I've resurrected it 30 years later - mostly because my teacher was thrilled to find I had worked on a piece she didn't know and hadn't heard a million times wink

It's really not very well known is it? Very few people seem to have heard of it - I was looking for recordings of it (I've already mostly learned it just having some difficulty conceptualizing the repeated figures in the key change section...don't know what you call it...it just seems to stall there). I only found 3 recordings, none of which I liked.

I have been reduced to listening to recordings of other polonaises because part of the problem is I just don't know the genre that well...have hardly played any Chopin (gasp)

Any suggestions on the piece would be gratefully received!!
Posted by: DameMyra

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 05:03 PM

Originally Posted By: vvanrij
Btw, is it just me, or do others also hear a bit of Rule Britannia in Op78 second movement.


Absolutely! And speaking of Op. 78. That is another wonderful, underplayed sonata.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 05:12 PM

Ow yes, my love for opus 78 is one of the biggest (is that even correct english?). Especially that first movement, it always just paints the picture for me of Beethoven in love.

And prodigalpianist please make us a recording when your ready for it of the polonaise. I'm very curious myself!
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By: DameMyra
]And speaking of Op. 78. That is another wonderful, underplayed sonata.

And the 2nd movement is just so easy to memorize.



cursing
Posted by: ProdigalPianist

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 05:30 PM

Originally Posted By: vvanrij

And prodigalpianist please make us a recording when your ready for it of the polonaise. I'm very curious myself!


Oh lord... [prodigalpianist runs screaming from the forum]

I have steeled myself to playing it for my adult amateurs group...but I don't know about recording it...that might be a few years off! Being a perfectionist and a huge chicken is not a good combination.

Actually, it's not playing for others that scares me...it's the thought of my mistakes being recorded for posterity...short of renting studio time and being able to fix disasters...

who is it on here that hosts recordings of recital disasters on his personal website?? wink
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 05:39 PM

A PM will also do, I am probably some years away from being able to play that piece myself, so there would be no reason for me to laugh. Meanwhile I do wish you the best of luck!
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 05:49 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: vvanrij
Some of my favorites that are not a lot performed are ops... 27/1.

It was the last Beethoven sonata I learned before the Op. 53. Fascinating piece, and -dare I say it- more interesting than its sibling.

I agree about the difficulties of Op 101. My prof often complained about an especially awkward moment at the start of the final mov't. As for the Op. 22, it is certainly off the beaten path, though I did hear it once in concert- and not part of a complete Beethoven cycle. But it has always been the odd one out for me. Like all the Beethoven sonatas, it is supremely well written, but I hope I'll be forgiven if I just don't find the melodic material very distinguished. IMO of course.


I share your opinion of Op. 22. Great piece, one of the best slow movements. Just never did it for me.

I thinks of it as a stand alone opus like Op. 7, which is a better piece - IMO, of course.
Posted by: Victor25

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 06:01 PM

I really like 22, especially the funny opening, from which thus beautifull theme arrives, also the weird note arpeggio uprising seems humerous to me. The adagio is a bit weird for me, I guess I don't really understand what he is trying to say. It almost seems like a Waltz Macabre or something like that. And then that nice minuetto, almost mozartian in melody, but the minore shows its own character. And then the rondo consisting of these hugh phrases. I agree its a very different sonata, I love it nevertheless.
Posted by: ProdigalPianist

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/13/09 06:11 PM

Well, something of the Polonaise has finally made it to YouTube since last I searched

Edward Kilenyi Beethoven Polonaise in C Op 89 - 1947

I can't play it this fast...those fast little figures kick my butt...
Posted by: Ganddalf

Re: Off the beaten path with Beethoven sonatas - 10/14/09 01:36 AM

As always, many good points here.

I have worked out most of the Op.10/3 sonata with a few difficult points that I still need to polish a bit. (I admit, though, that I play the first movement a bit slower than the great professionals.)

I know almost nothing about the smaller pieces Beethoven wrote for the piano, so I'll check them out.

And if time permits I may start working with Op.22. I'm especially fond of the finale movement of that sonata.