Hyperion Records

Piano Sonata in C sharp minor 'Moonlight', Op 27 No 2
composer
1801; published in March 1802; No 14; Beethoven's subtitle is 'quasi una Fantasia'; the nickname 'Moonlight' comes from Ludwig Rellstab's description of the opening movement; dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi

Recordings
'In the Night' (CDA67996)
In the Night
Pre-order CD by post £10.50 CDA67996  May 2014 Release  
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas' (CDA67662)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67662 
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas' (CKD244)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas
CKD244  Download only  
'Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3' (CDA67797)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67797 
'Harold Bauer – The complete recordings' (APR7302)
Harold Bauer – The complete recordings
Buy by post £16.50 APR7302  3CDs  
'Paderewski – His final recordings' (APR5636)
Paderewski – His final recordings
Buy by post £8.50 APR5636 
'Bowen: The complete works for viola & piano' (CDA67651/2)
Bowen: The complete works for viola & piano
Buy by post £20.00 CDA67651/2  2CDs  
Details
Movement 1: Adagio sostenuto
Track 2 on CDA67996 [5'08] May 2014 Release
Track 3 on APR5636 [5'31]
Track 8 on APR7302 CD1 [4'53] 3CDs
arranger
viola obbligato; 57 bars survive; remaining 20-odd completed and edited by Lawrence Power

Track 6 on CDA67651/2 CD1 [5'40] 2CDs
Track 1 on CDA67662 [6'01]
Track 4 on CKD244 [6'41] Download only
Movement 2: Allegretto
Movement 3: Presto agitato

Piano Sonata in C sharp minor 'Moonlight', Op 27 No 2
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If the title of the Op 13 Sonata at least has some semblance of authenticity, the same cannot be said of the nickname that has become attached to the second of the pair of sonatas Op 27. It was the poet and music critic Ludwig Rellstab who described its famous opening movement as evoking ‘a boat, visiting, by moonlight, the primitive landscapes of Lake Lucerne’. Curiously enough, to Beethoven’s pupil Carl Czerny, writing before Rellstab had penned his phrase, the sonata’s opening movement also suggested a nocturnal landscape. The piece, said Czerny, was ‘a night scene, in which the plaintive voice of a spirit is heard far in the distance’.

The Op 27 sonatas were issued in 1801, both of them with the sub-heading of ‘quasi una Fantasia’—a qualification indicating the freedom with which Beethoven was treating the traditional sonata design. The ‘Moonlight’ Sonata’s famous opening movement bears the direction: Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino (‘This entire piece must be played with the utmost delicacy, and without dampers’). ‘Senza sordino’ was Beethoven’s habitual marking at this stage of his career for the use of the sustaining pedal, and although on a modern piano his instruction needs to be treated with some caution, a certain degree of harmonic blurring is implied in order to convey the music’s unbroken atmosphere of plaintive mystery. Beethoven was to exploit similar overlapping pedal effects in the rondo theme of the ‘Waldstein’ Sonata.

As he was to do the following year in his ‘Tempest’ Sonata Op 31 No 2, Beethoven maintains the darkness of the minor mode throughout the two outer movements, while writing the middle movement entirely in the major. (‘A flower between two abysses’ was Liszt’s evocative description of the minuet-like second movement of Op 27 No 2.) The finale is an unrelentingly agitated piece whose coda, with its ‘strummed’ diminished-seventh chords sweeping up the keyboard, reaches new heights of turbulence. Not until the ‘Appassionata’ Op 57 did Beethoven write another finale for piano of comparable dramatic intensity.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2010

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA67662 track 2
Allegretto
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-10-66202
Duration
1'59
Recording date
15 September 2008
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Beethoven: Piano Sonatas (CDA67662)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: May 2010
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