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RE: [F_minor] Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata
Reading further in Gould's notes to the Pathetique, Moonlight,
Appassionata set of sonatas is this excerpt:
By comparison, the Sonata Op. 27, No. 2 (the so-called "Moonlight"
Sonata), although comprising three superficially disparate movements, is
a masterpiece of intuitive organization. As opposed to the Pathetique,
which recedes emotionally from the belligerence of its opening Allegro
to the more modest claims of its concluding Rondo, the "Moonlight"
Sonata escalates from first note to last. Beginning with the diffident
charm of what is unquestionably Beethoven's best-loved and most abused
melody, the ternary grace of the opening Adagio resolves into the
tantalizingly ambivalent whiff of D-flat major that constitutes the
second movement. This fragile and autumnal Allegretto, in turn,
disappears within the flash flood that is the concluding Presto. Indeed,
the Presto movement of this work seems to crystallize the sentiments of
the other two and confirm an emotional relationship at once flexible and
assured. Written in the form of a sonata-allegro, such as Beethoven
would normally employ as a first movement, it is one of the most
imaginatively structured and temperamentally versatile of all his
finales. But because of its cumulative zeal, the "Moonlight" Sonata is
deservedly high on the eighteenth-century hit parade.
>>> "Houpt, Fred" <firstname.lastname@example.org> 06/23/08 6:01 PM >>>
Very interesting and penetrating comments. I am a bit taken aback by
GG's that...."none of these celebrated sonatas provided landmarks in
Beethoven's creative evolution". What? He must be kidding? The third
movement of the Moonlight is not unlike a cannonade from Napoleon's
forces as they try to storm Vienna. I beg to differ with GG here, but
he would be hard pressed to find an example of anything as unanticipated
as the 3'rd mvt in all of Mozart and Hadyn's solo output. It is pure
Beethoven in its heart and soul, as revolutionary and individual as his
contribution to music was. It is interesting, now that I think of it,
the explosive ending of the Apposionata in contrast to the
Moonlight......often encourages the same break neck (literally) and
reckless traversal of the musical map as I have thought GG's approach
was. Often pianists (usually the guys) say, heh, B wants prestisimo?
then watch this: zooooooooom! It's overdone and showing off rather than
emotive. In my view speed must be one of the most difficult turns to
show. The first difficulty is getting your fingers NOT to slur. The
second is to get them to not make a mistake and the third is to create
an "effect" without distortion, unless distortion is intentionally
invoked. The slowest speeds offer other challenges, not the least is
what some pianists have succumbed to with the Moonlight, which is heart
on the sleeve, heavy doses of schmaltz and artery clogging syrup. That
is one reason GG's usually bare bones manner of playing is so
attractive. Often it is clean of artifice. But here in the M piece his
tempo has me puzzled and mildly put off; a rare event for me.
As far as forms go, Beethoven was already blazing a way into new
territory in his first 10 sonatas. I cannot remember which number off
hand (as all my music is at home) but there is an early sonata where the
final movement has what became a hallmark of B's thunderous eruptions,
sometimes referred to as his rocket theme. It is unmistakable and again
there is nothing in Mozart of Haydn like it. B was a very bold
From: Etha Williams [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2008 4:07 PM
To: Reinhold, Christiane
Cc: Matthew Harding; Houpt, Fred; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: [F_minor] Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata
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