Thursday, March 03, 2005

Beethoven, Menuet in C major

In my quest to find relatively short pieces by famous composers, I found this stand-alone menuett for solo piano (or one intended for something larger but not used) by Beethoven. This piece is a combination of a few contrasting periods.

One of the unusual aspects of the first period is that the first cadence happens on the third beat of the fourth measure when you would expect most minuets to end on the first or even the second beat of the measure. The right hand has sixteenth notes in the first, third, fifth and sixth measures, quarter notes in the second, fourth and eighth measures, and eighth notes in the sixth and seventh measures with simple accompaniment and a very nice suspension at the end of the period and the whole period is repeated.

The first phrase of the second period reverses this rhythmic pattern, putting the quarter notes in bars one and three and sixteenth notes in bars two and four. The quarter note part is accompanied by a bass line that both fall in parallel motion which sounds really nice contrasted with the sixteenth notes.

The first period is basically repeated again but without the suspension because this marks the end of the A section of the piece. The piece changes mood for the B section to a very Renaissance like sound because of the open fifth pedal tone that the left hand plays throughout the first period. The right hand goes up and plays the melody up much higher than the previous melody, and sticks to quarter notes and eighth notes with grace notes and fancy turns. One again, this period is repeated.

The next period is a development of the first one. The first phrase has right hand does the high melody similar to the last period, but the left hand is doing block chords. The second phrase has the same melody as the last period, but with the left hand doing a single note bass line. And once again, this period is repeated.

And like any good ternary piece, the first period comes back again and repeats, the first time with the nice suspension, the second one without it.

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