SONATA N0. 20, OP. 49/2

In our look at the musical content of this sonata we follow the pattern indicated in our introductory comments on music criticism offered here.  This pattern offers you comments in the following sequence: 




Each category can be directly accessed by clicking on the above links.  Therefore, if you prefer one kind of comment(s) over another, you can make your own selection. 


Barry Cooper offers us a brief look at the musical content of this sonata:  

"This was clearly not intended as a successor to his three big sonatas of Op. 2, for it is really just a two-movement sonatina, probably commissioned by a pianist of mediocre ability.  Even after sketching it, Beethoven decided to simplify it, for the opening theme was sketched with semiquavers, which he eventually replaced with quaver triplets.  He also tightened the thematic writing in the final version, using material from the transition as a closing theme for the exposition, whereas in the sketches the figuration is not strongly thematic in either passage.  The second movement uses the rhythm, but not the form, of a minuet, and again the final version shows some simplifications of figuration compared with the sketches" (Cooper: 64).


In this case, Joachim Kaiser's can not make more of this sonata than it really is:  

"Gewiß die harmloseste, die unproblematischste und einfachste aller 32 Sonaten.  Vermittelte Opus 49 Nr. 1 noch spannungsvoll zwischen elegischer Andante-Kantabilität und selbstbewußtem Rondo-Trotz, so bietet die Leichte Sonate Opus 49 Nr. 2 eine entspannt melodiöse, manchmal konventionell parlierende Heiterkeit im Allegro und wohlpointierte Behaglichkeit im Menuett-Satz.  Bereits diese beiden frühen Werke des Opus 49 scheinen einander nach dem Prinzip des Kontrastes gegenübergestellt.  Denkbar simpel der Klaviersatz: die linke Hand bleibt hier ohne jede Selbständigkeit auf schlichte Begleitfiguren und Tonleitern beschränkt.  Für Interpreten ist die Versuchung groß, aus diesem herzlich naiv singenden Stück ein Kabinett-Stückchen zu machen.  Ob scharfe Zutaten das milde Gericht freilich originell verbessern, interessant verfremden oder ungenießbar machen, das hängt vom Geschmack des Würzenden, von der Erwartung der Hörer und auch vom Rahmen ab, in dem diese Kleine Sonate erklingt" (Kaiser: 351; --

-- Certainly, writes Kaiser, the most unproblematic and simple of all 32 sonatas, and, while Op. 49, No. 1 still suspensefully negotiated between elegiac Andante-cantabile and self-confident Rondo-defiance, this easy sonata O. 49 No. 2 just offers a relaxed, melodious, sometimes conventionally chatting cheerfulness in its Allegro and well-proportioned comfort in the Minuet and that already these early sonatas appear to be contrasting each other based on the principle of contrast.  Kaiser describes this work as very simple and that in it, the left piano hand is confined to simple accompaniments and scales and that it might mislead interpreters to turn this sincerely naively singing piece into a virtuoso piece, whereby the question remains as to whether sophisticated spices will add more originality to the simple dish, make it more exotic or hard to digest, which might all depend on the taste of the one who spices it, on the expectations of the listeners or also from the venue in which this little sonata is being performed).


Anton Kuerti is even more unsatisfied with this sonata:  

Allegro ma non troppo

He writes that this sonata is filled with rather thin scale passages and that only the brief development hints at who has composed it .  .  .  

Tempo di Menuetto

Kuerti also points out that the theme of the second movement is identical to the of the Septet, but that it is much more intricately worked out in the Septet.    (Kuerti: 42).  

Here, we offer you a chance to listen to a midi file of this sonata, via the following link: 

Kunst der Fuge: Beethoven-Sonatas

We wish you a great deal of listening enjoyment!

For those of you who want to explore this topic further in a serious manner, we can offer you a link to the Beethoven Bibliography Data Base of the Ira Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies in San Jose, California:

Opus 49/2 - Search