Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Beethoven: Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Op. 10 No. 1 (Brendel)

The first movement of Beethoven's piano sonata in c minor is made up of four different themes and is in three-four time. The first theme begins with a c minor chord with the melody playing up the triad and then resolving to some sort of diminished chord. The same rhythm is repeated and the rest of section A follows a similar pattern of the melody fitting nicely with their given chords. The second section of the piece, B, takes a much slower pace and the three beat measures are brought out more clearly. The melody is brought out very well and stays connected throughout the section. The third section of the piece, we will call it C, goes back to the fast pace of section A. In section C, the left hand is playing some sort eighth or sixteenth notes that creates chords which accompany the melody in the right hand. Section C ends with a few measures of a repeating V-I chords which create a perfect authentic cadence. Now the piece shows an even larger contrast by playing section A in major instead of minor as the song began. More importantly a new section is added that we will call D. Section D sounds as if it goes back to a minor key. It uses the similar fast moving left hand which accompanies the right hand, but this portion has a slower feel, unlike section C. Also, it sounds as if the melody of section D, which is played in octaves, has few non-chord tones. The rest of the piece is very similar to the first three sections. Section A is repeated in its original minor which finally gives it a sort of chorus feel. Then sections B and C are played the same but in different keys, giving the ending a very nice authentic cadence just like the beginning. It wouldn't be very surprising if Beethoven modulated to the chromatic mediant, when he switches keys for sections b and c.
Even though the beginning of this piece tends to sound very dark and flippant, the song becomes more enjoyable when you hear each new section. I really enjoy the romantic sound of section B and b when the melody sings beautifully with very soft accompanying voices. My favorite portion is what I called section D when a totally new theme is introduced. Even though it is not extremely fast, Section D moves and the accompanying line is very lively. I most enjoy this piece because every performer seems to play it differently. Some pianists take it at a slower pace while others seem to play it too fast. This performance by Brendel has a very nice tempo in the middle of the two extremes but I do not prefer how he slows down certain sections.

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