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Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
#2870795 07/20/19 02:23 AM
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If you would humour me, I'd love to hear what your answers to these two questions are:

1. What's your favourite Beethoven sonata, if you have one?
(this one's purely about personal taste. If you'd like to elaborate, feel free)

2. Which one do you think is the most accessible in terms of difficulty?
(I'm not talking about individual movements, which is easier to determine)

The reason behind me asking is mostly just curiosity. Beethoven is one of my absolute favourite composers and I've always loved playing his sonatas. It's been a while, though, as I'm nowhere near good enough after my long break, so I'm just looking forward to tackling one again at some point - call it a motivating goal. But I've forgotten a lot, and what I do remember, isn't very accurate, simply because my level of playing was a lot higher back then, and what I remember as "easy" could be practically unplayable for me now.

Also, I just like to talk about Beethoven. And talk to my fellow PW people. So there smile


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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870804 07/20/19 03:18 AM
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At the moment, I've been drawn to early Beethoven, when he was still under the influence of Papa Haydn, but starting to break away from and find his own voice. So the A major Sonata, Opus 2. No.2 is on my playlist, as well as the Grand Sonata in Eb, No. 4, Opus 7, his first really big sonata. Many would probably choose from the late sonatas ,or the standard warhorses (Moonlight, Pathetique, Appassionata, Waldstein) but the early ones are fascinating in their own right.

As for as accessibility in terms of difficulty, everyone would most likely point to the Opus 49 sonatas, which Ludwig wrote for young students (they are actually sonatinas, and written around the same time as Opus 7). They are both two movement works, not that difficult technically and the G major one is charming, while the G minor one has a bit of pathos. The first Sonata in f minor, Opus 2, is a bit more difficult, and more substantial than the Opus 49 set, in 4 movements.

Last edited by BeeZee4; 07/20/19 03:20 AM. Reason: correct adjective

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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
BeeZee4 #2870816 07/20/19 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by BeeZee4
At the moment, I've been drawn to early Beethoven, when he was still under the influence of Papa Haydn, but starting to break away from and find his own voice. So the A major Sonata, Opus 2. No.2 is on my playlist, as well as the Grand Sonata in Eb, No. 4, Opus 7, his first really big sonata. Many would probably choose from the late sonatas ,or the standard warhorses (Moonlight, Pathetique, Appassionata, Waldstein) but the early ones are fascinating in their own right.

As for as accessibility in terms of difficulty, everyone would most likely point to the Opus 49 sonatas, which Ludwig wrote for young students (they are actually sonatinas, and written around the same time as Opus 7). They are both two movement works, not that difficult technically and the G major one is charming, while the G minor one has a bit of pathos. The first Sonata in f minor, Opus 2, is a bit more difficult, and more substantial than the Opus 49 set, in 4 movements.

D'you know, I don't think I ever played the op. 49s, at least not that I remember. Op. 2 f minor I remember well, used to love that one. It should be doable again at some point.

And then there's op. 79 ("Alla Tedesca"), of course. I'm in love with the 2nd movement.

Last edited by Sibylle; 07/20/19 04:32 AM.

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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870818 07/20/19 04:43 AM
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I really like his opus 109. It is almost like a deep introspection, a sort of philosophical reflection. The variations are a masterpiece composition. I am not a great fan of his more powerful sonatas like the 106. The arietta in his last opus 111 is also unique.

The opus 49 is clearly his easiest, more so than opus 2. Some of the rondos are also accessible.

Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870824 07/20/19 05:13 AM
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The Op.49 sonatas are really sonatinas, and were composed much earlier than their opus numbers indicate. Luddy never intended them to be included in his piano sonata canon, and they aren't included on some listings of the sonatas (and not performed by some pianists in their "complete Beethoven sonata cycle"). After all, if you're going to include them you should also include the three earlier ones to make a total of 35 (as in the ABRSM edition by Barry Cooper).

Op.49 No.2 was the first complete one I learnt entirely by myself, so I have a sentimental attachment to it......though I haven't played it for decades. Well, it's easy enough to sight-read, so I might just do that to stop myself embarking on the Hammerklavier (which I have no intention of ever learning anyway smirk ).

So, my favourite is Op.31/1, "The Joke" wink .


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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870825 07/20/19 05:21 AM
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I can play 4 Beethoven sonatas.
As a teenager, I learned op.27/2 (Moonlight) and op.31/2 (Tempest).
At about 23 years of age, I learned op.13 (Pathétique), and at 45 years, after getting my own grand piano, I learned op.10/1.

The most fun to play to me are Moonlight and Pathétique.

I also learned at one time single movements from op.2/3 (1st movement) and op.57 (Appassionata, 3rd movement). Not sure if I can still play them today.

The Appassionata and op.53 (Waldstein) are sonatas I like to listen to, even if I don't do it too often.

As for difficulty: Of the four I played entirely, I guess the Pathétique might be the most accessible. Technically, op.10/1 isn't too difficult, but the trick is to memorize the right notes. The devil is in the details.
If you don't care about playing all the right notes and only the right notes, then op.10/1 and Moonlight are accessible as well. Tempest too, I guess.

Last edited by patH; 07/20/19 05:25 AM.

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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
bennevis #2870827 07/20/19 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
I really like his opus 109. It is almost like a deep introspection, a sort of philosophical reflection. The variations are a masterpiece composition. I am not a great fan of his more powerful sonatas like the 106. The arietta in his last opus 111 is also unique.

I need to listen to op. 109 again, I couldn't even hum a main theme if you put a gun to my head. It's been too danged long!

Op. 111 is amazing and always makes me wish Beethoven had lived to be 90. Who knows what might have followed! Being me, I idolise Pogorelich's version of it, both the recording and the one time I heard him play it live, in 1988.


Originally Posted by bennevis
The Op.49 sonatas are really sonatinas, and were composed much earlier than their opus numbers indicate. Luddy never intended them to be included in his piano sonata canon, and they aren't included on some listings of the sonatas (and not performed by some pianists in their "complete Beethoven sonata cycle"). After all, if you're going to include them you should also include the three earlier ones to make a total of 35 (as in the ABRSM edition by Barry Cooper).

Op.49 No.2 was the first complete one I learnt entirely by myself, so I have a sentimental attachment to it......though I haven't played it for decades. Well, it's easy enough to sight-read, so I might just do that to stop myself embarking on the Hammerklavier (which I have no intention of ever learning anyway smirk ).

So, my favourite is Op.31/1, "The Joke" wink .

Awww, what's wrong with Hammerklavier? So nice and easy! ha

The "Joke" is always great to listen to. I just realised I never mentioned my own favourite, but I've written about that before, it's No. 17 (op. 31), "Tempest". First thing I ever heard Pogorelich play. Fell in love and never wavered. The third movement is out of this world.

I've decided to give op. 79 a go for now (which is titled "Sonatine" btw), although it'll be a while until I actually play the Alla Tedesca in Presto grin

Last edited by Sibylle; 07/20/19 05:34 AM.

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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
patH #2870833 07/20/19 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by patH

As a teenager, I learned op.27/2 (Moonlight) and op.31/2 (Tempest).

Me too! smile


Quote
At about 23 years of age, I learned op.13 (Pathétique), and at 45 years, after getting my own grand piano, I learned op.10/1.

The most fun to play to me are Moonlight and Pathétique.

I also learned at one time single movements from op.2/3 (1st movement) and op.57 (Appassionata, 3rd movement). Not sure if I can still play them today.

The Appassionata and op.53 (Waldstein) are sonatas I like to listen to, even if I don't do it too often.

As for difficulty: Of the four I played entirely, I guess the Pathétique might be the most accessible. Technically, op.10/1 isn't too difficult, but the trick is to memorize the right notes. The devil is in the details.
If you don't care about playing all the right notes and only the right notes, then op.10/1 and Moonlight are accessible as well. Tempest too, I guess.


The Pathétique is one I aspire to, and you're right, of the famous sonatas it's probably the easiest - or should that be, the least difficult! One day in the distant future, I hope to be playing Tempest again, too.


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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870874 07/20/19 10:11 AM
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My favorite is Op. 101, or maybe 111...

My favorite earlier sonata is Op. 22, which never gets the love it deserves!

Op. 2 No. 1 isn’t “easy” by any means, but could be a good starter. Or the Op. 49’s.

Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870900 07/20/19 12:18 PM
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I'll second Opus 101.

Also, somewhat off the beaten track are track Op. 27/1 (which is maybe in the slightly easier category) and Op. 31/3, both in E-flat Major.

BTW, I got really tired of the "Tempest" outer mvts. The middle is rather sublime, though. 😆


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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870949 07/20/19 03:29 PM
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My favourite is the Appassionata. Bit of a cliche but I think I read somewhere that it was Beethoven’s favourite too, so I’m in good company!

I have broadening my listening lately and introducing myself to lots of new works. I listened to the Appassionata again last week and it reminded me all the reasons it’s my favourite. I absolutely love all three movements and am feeling inspired to play it again!

Last edited by MarkEm; 07/20/19 03:29 PM. Reason: Typo
Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870982 07/20/19 04:50 PM
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My favourites are the Hammerklavier and op.111. I've always promised myself that I'd learn the last five. Maybe I'll do that on the way up Everest...

I'd also love to learn the Op.31 sonatas, but I've only learned a few movements from the three.

Op.2 no.1 is a wonderful sonata, and nowhere near as tough as some of the others.

Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2870990 07/20/19 05:20 PM
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I have two favorites: No. 15, Op. 28, the "Pastoral". It's just beautiful. I don't know why it isn't played more often. The other is Op. 111, which is in a class by itself. Of course those last 5 or 6 sonatas are in a class by themselves and it's hard to choose just one from that group. So: Opp. 28, 90, 101, 106, 109, 110, 111. grin

Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Orange Soda King #2870998 07/20/19 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King

My favorite earlier sonata is Op. 22, which never gets the love it deserves!

Having known you for sometime on this board, you have been consistently faithful to the Op 22! One of my colleagues at uni learned it, so I had relatively early experience there, and it really is a very, very fine work. One commentator heard a precursor to the opening of act 3 in Wagner's 'Siegfried' in the double octaves closing out the expo in the 1st movement of the Op 22. Plausible, who knows?

The problem -if there is one- with the Op 22 is that it doesn't have the outrageously charismatic moments of, say, the Op 26, 27 or any of the Op 31. The Op 22 is a chaste wallflower, its perfection lying just below the Beethovenian radar. Sort of like the 4th symphony, also in Bb.

Hard for me to pick a favourite sonata. IMHO the Op 27/1 is -in some respects- more interesting than its companion. Its (relative) neglect is a mystery to me.


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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2871021 07/20/19 07:25 PM
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I do not think it is a contest. You should play as many as you can manage. However, I have been trying to regain some of my lost technique and I have decided that Beethoven and Chopin have left steps towards managing everything they have written for the piano. For Chopin, it is the Preludes, which vary from his easiest to most difficult works, broken into bite-sized pieces, although not in order of difficulty. For Beethoven, it is the Bagatelles. If you can master those sets, you will be set for life.

The nice thing about them is that the easy ones are really easy, so you can gauge your progress. If you cannot manage the really hard ones, you are not likely to manage the really hard major works.


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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
BDB #2871071 07/20/19 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by BDB
Beethoven and Chopin have left steps towards managing everything they have written for the piano. For Chopin, it is the Preludes, which vary from his easiest to most difficult works, broken into bite-sized pieces, although not in order of difficulty. For Beethoven, it is the Bagatelles. If you can master those sets, you will be set for life.


I'm always particularly struck by how Bagatelle Op. 33/7 seems to be Beethoven playing around with raw ideas that became the "Waldstein" Sonata.




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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2871083 07/20/19 11:53 PM
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I was looking at some of the late Bagatelles today, and looking at the trills which are like those in some of the contemporary sonatas, and thinking that even though they were published later, they might have been studies for those sonatas.

I had a friend who looked at Op. 33 #5 and thought it was a musical pun, because one of the definitions of Bagatelle is a pinball machine. Beethoven was known to be a punster.


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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
BDB #2871113 07/21/19 05:04 AM
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Thank you for all the replies! I’m taking notes and remembering so much I’d forgotten. Beethoven is just marvellous, I’m very much looking forward to next year.


Originally Posted by WhoDwaldi
BTW, I got really tired of the "Tempest" outer mvts. The middle is rather sublime, though. 😆

What! Sacrilege!! ha
I have to say though, that I’ve always taken great care not to listen to it too much. Partly that’s because Pogorelich kinda ruined it for me, as everyone else’s version of the 3rd movement now just sounds “wrong” and he never recorded it! There’s a YouTube recording floating around somewhere, but the sound quality is pretty awful. But I also try not to overdo my favourite pieces, to “preserve” them, so to speak.


Originally Posted by BDB
I do not think it is a contest. You should play as many as you can manage. However, I have been trying to regain some of my lost technique and I have decided that Beethoven and Chopin have left steps towards managing everything they have written for the piano. For Chopin, it is the Preludes, which vary from his easiest to most difficult works, broken into bite-sized pieces, although not in order of difficulty. For Beethoven, it is the Bagatelles. If you can master those sets, you will be set for life.

The nice thing about them is that the easy ones are really easy, so you can gauge your progress. If you cannot manage the really hard ones, you are not likely to manage the really hard major works.

That’s interesting, I need to dig out the Bagatelles. Especially since I happen to practice/play a few of the easier Chopin preludes right now. Coincidence!

Last edited by Sibylle; 07/21/19 05:04 AM.

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Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2871271 07/21/19 06:13 PM
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1) There are many great ones so I don't have a favorite. Depending on the mood I want to express, I will play opus 13, 27-2, 31-2, 31-3, 49-2, 53, 57, 79, 101, 109, 110 or 111.

2) Any of the two from opus 49.

There are many poor versions of Beethoven sonatas, including by some "famous" names. IMHO each needs to be respected the way it was intended to be played, otherwise they sound worse that any wrong version of Chopin or Schubert works.

Re: Two opinion questions on Beethoven's sonatas
Sibylle #2871662 07/22/19 11:27 PM
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My favorite is probably op. 101 in A major, but it's probably also the hardest after op. 106.

Another really nice one that's much easier is the op. 78 in F Sharp. If you can get past the annoying (to me) key signature, it's not much harder than most Mozart sonatas, and is quite rewarding, especially in the 2nd movement.

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