Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Allegretto
Movement 3: Presto
When playing a Beethoven sonata it is important to remember how new and different this music sounded when it was first heard. Op 10 No 2 is basically a comedy, set up by the two chords and the throw-away turn at the very beginning. Of course we sense the presence of Haydn, but Beethoven was never anyone other than himself. After the development section of the first movement, in which another turn figure refuses to disappear, the music comes to a brief pause, making us wonder what will happen next. Beethoven teasingly gives us the recapitulation in the wrong key—D major—adding a whole new colour to the mix. But then he sneaks back to the tonic and brings this fun movement to a brilliant close.
The second movement, Allegretto, was initially conceived as a minuet and trio. Perhaps the title was changed because the repeat of the ‘minuet’ is quite varied and the whole thing not very dance-like. The middle section in D flat major makes us momentarily wonder if we are not listening to Schubert rather than to Beethoven. But the characteristic szforzandos couldn’t be by anyone else.
The finale seems to fuse Haydn’s mischievousness and Bach’s counterpoint, but with an exuberance typical of the young Beethoven. A hint of D major reminds us of his first movement high jinks, before hurtling us to the final unison F. Tovey writes that ‘a scrambling performance of this movement is among the ugliest experiences in music, and is permanently hurtful to the technique and style of the scrambler’. To be convincingly ‘bustling and merry’ (as Czerny describes this movement) one must unfortunately also be able to play the notes!
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2010