Beautiful Music: The Spring Sonata

Am trying (with, at best, mixed results) to learn the piano part to Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata for violin and piano. Although not as difficult as many other of B’s works (talking about you, “Kreutzer Sonata”), it’s still plenty challenging.  The title “Frühlingssonata,” which he did not use, comes from the relatively sunny disposition of the first movement. Like the even-numbered symphonies it is full of good spirits and earthy humor.

I will probably never be able to play this piece very fluently, but it is fascinating to learn, particularly the compelling way it is built around pushing up against (and over) the bar lines (listen to the very first phase with that agogic accent). Throughout, the piece keeps unfolding implications of a sort of “head over heels” character–one idea moving to the next. (“A” becoming “B” as a German scholar wrote of Beethoven, rather than “A” becoming more perfectly “A” in Mozart.”)


And yes, it does evoke the happiness of spring, which seems, finally, to be here.

Here is a lovely performance by violinist David Oistrakh and pianist Lev Oborin,

There is also a spectacular recording of the complete sonatas by Isabelle Faust & Alexander Melnikov, which they discuss here (perfs not on YouTube) including some interesting comments about the melody in the sonata.

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