Movement 1: Andante
Movement 2: Allegro vivace
Movement 3: Adagio – Tempo d'andante
Movement 4: Allegro vivace
The ensuing Adagio initially sets a deeply contemplative mood, but the urgent hemidemisemiquaver passagework soon engenders an inward, tension-filled dialogue featuring menacing sforzati in the cello and piano parts. After eight bars, the tension is resolved in a diminuendo leading to one of the most moving phrases in the whole cycle of sonatas. Here we are offered a melody in G major of the utmost fervour and simplicity, which Beethoven marks teneramente, ‘tenderly’. After the quotation of the sonata’s opening theme mentioned above, a trill shared by cello and piano introduces the finale, Allegro vivace. In his first autograph draft of this movement Beethoven originally intended the main theme as a fugue subject, but subsequently rejected the idea. Only in his final sonata was he to realize this project, weaving a dense contrapuntal texture in its last movement. In his finished version of the Allegro vivace, hopeful, questioning motifs develop into a theme of boisterous, rustic strength, as if firmly rooted in the soil. All that remains of Beethoven’s idea of a fugal texture is a brief episode midway through the movement, after the first ghostly point of repose, which nonetheless offers a foretaste of the path he was to follow in the finale of his great D major sonata. The last movement of the present sonata is dominated by bold alternation between the rustic dance rhythms and eerie moments of repose. The coda features a brilliant stream of rising triplets in C major in which the cello is required to play in its highest register. Here once more the composer combines the full force of the two instruments. After a last lyrical phrase recalling the start of the movement, a rapid semiquaver passage and two chords bring the sonata to an unexpected close with almost coarse humour.
from notes by Daniel Müller-Schott © 2010
English: Charles Johnston