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Although the first movement is stormy in character, it has a beautifully lyrical second subject and Beethoven cunningly transformed this theme almost beyond recognition to form the main theme of the sublime slow movement. This evokes a completely different and more exalted world, in the remote key of E major, with a reduced orchestra and muted strings. The key of C minor returns in the finale, but there is one brief excursion back to E major, as if recalling that exalted world before the music ends in a blaze of glory, in a triumphant C major.
from notes by Barry Cooper © 2009