Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

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Belle
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Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by Belle » Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:52 am

I absolutely adore this sonata and keep coming back to it! It's excellent to be able to read the score online as you listen. Now, the first movement; it always seems to me that it breaks up a little (for want of a better term) from bars 220-250. That section just doesn't quite work for me. It's heresy I know, but it's OK to find weaknesses in Beethoven. This section just seems to coast along and go nowhere. And it seems to anticipate the late sonatas where Beethoven most definitely did know where he was going!! I think the last movement (Rondo) is complete ecstasy!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUmrX1xO1ms

What do others think?

John F
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by John F » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:27 am

This is another of those pieces (cf. "Kreisleriana") on which our tastes differ. For me the Pastoral sonata is one of the least engaging of the cycle; I couldn't remember a note of it until I played the YouTube clip, and even while hearing it I didn't really recognize the music until the scherzo. The coda of the finale woke me up, but of course by then the piece was almost over.

But then, I don't know anybody else who likes the little sonata op. 79 as much as I do. One reason might be that my parents happened to have the Artur Schnabel recording, a filler in the album containing op. 10 #1 and #3, so it was there for me. But if it hadn't appealed, even at my early age, I wouldn't have played it often enough to have much of it in memory. Schnabel's recording is a bit messy - he plays the outer movements at quite a clip - so here's another version, actually three versions, with the score. The first version, by Richard Goode, has tempos much like Schnabel's but without the wrong notes.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QovNsObNtVo
Last edited by John F on Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by Belle » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:51 am

The section in question appears at 6'21" on the clip I provided with my comments. What I love about the sonata is not only its wonderful melody but its variety and muscularity. It does look ahead to the late sonatas in particular sections. And I adore the second movement with its gentle ostinto over which Beethoven puts a florid melody line in certain sections.

I was just about to turn in after a long day writing up my lecture for Thursday when your irresistible comments turned up!! More tomorrow.

John F
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by John F » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:04 am

Sorry about the boner in my previous comment - I was looking at the wrong score. How that happened I can't imagine. Anyway, I'll listen again and see if I've anything to say.
John Francis

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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:41 am

The edition in both cases is that of Heinrich Schenker, in case anyone is interested. They are in the public domain, and I happen to own the Dover set, but they are also available on IMSLP if one is listening to a YouTube performance and the score doesn't happen to appear on the screen. With all the fingering, they cannot be considered an Urtext, but it is commonly considered one of the great editions.

I am afraid I am missing something here. Both of these sonatas are flawless masterpieces. I can find nothing to question in the passage to which Belle refers. As with any composer, one can find weak Beethoven if one searches hard enough, but in B's case it is never a passage that might seem curious to the individual listener in an otherwise great work. It is much more likely that it would be an entire mediocre composition, such as the Opus 81b, a sextet for strings and two horns that in spite of its high opus number is an early work, which I once had to suffer through at a live chamber music performance.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by John F » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:15 am

The passage Belle mentions is pretty uneventful for a Beethoven development, it more or less marks time in the dominant, but in this particular sonata (which I've said doesn't turn me on) it doesn't seem to me unsuitable.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by Belle » Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:41 pm

You've nailed it!! He IS marking time and it doesn't even 'behave' like a bridge passage, IMO. I do think the rest of the sonata is wonderful, so this weak spot stands out for me.

John F
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by John F » Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:20 pm

That's not the only passage in Beethoven's music which "marks time." At the end of the Eroica's first movement development, the orchestra "vamps till ready" in the dominant until the horn interrupts with its premature entry. Taken in isolation, the music in those bars is unimpressive, to say the least, but Beethoven knew what he was doing, and I'd say he also did in the piano sonata.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by Belle » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:29 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 4:20 pm
That's not the only passage in Beethoven's music which "marks time." At the end of the Eroica's first movement development, the orchestra "vamps till ready" in the dominant until the horn interrupts with its premature entry. Taken in isolation, the music in those bars is unimpressive, to say the least, but Beethoven knew what he was doing, and I'd say he also did in the piano sonata.
Except that in the "Eroica" it works! Here it doesn't IMO.

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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by Holden Fourth » Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:07 am

Interesting. I sat down at the piano played from about bar 160 and took out that whole passage by stopping at bar 218. This gave a very abrupt and truncated end so I can see why Beethoven winds it down as it also leads nicely back to the beginning. This doesn't happen if you stop at bar 218. You also have the choice of restarting at 255 or alternatively 268. Both don't sound right to me.

I agree there is a bit of the dooby dooby doo...lalala effect but I think it works. You might differ so try playing it without those bars - it might sound right to you. If someone who can really play (I can't) and would like to record it without those bars it might make for even more debate. Good topic Belle.

John F
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Re: Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28

Post by John F » Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:33 am

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, Belle. But as far as I can tell, not just from the responses here but from reading Tovey, Rosen, and others, no one else shares it.
John Francis

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