Movement 1: Allegro molto e con brio
Movement 2: Largo, con gran espressione
Movement 3: Allegro
Movement 4: Rondo: Poco allegretto e grazioso
The Allegro third movement returns us to playful mood in a less sophisticated manner than Op 10 No 3 but is full of humour and charm. Its middle section, in E flat minor, is made up of rumbling triplets that contrast totally with what has come before. The colour of this passage would probably have sounded very different on Beethoven’s piano than on most modern instruments, and I think we need to keep that in mind when playing it. The fourth pedal on my Fazioli piano which I used for this recording works wonders here, bringing the hammers closer to the strings while at the same time lowering the keys so that the action is much shallower, enabling a swift, clear, and yet quiet execution.
As Tovey has suggested, if the first movement of this sonata looks forward to a new style of writing, the finale, Poco allegretto e grazioso, is one of the last examples of his early style. The Rondo melody is a long, meandering one which lends itself easily to ornamentation. Its charm is broken, however, by the middle section in C minor, which suddenly takes off using what was an accompanying figure to propel it forward (Czerny says this section can be taken a bit faster than the rest). When the Rondo theme returns it is as if nothing has happened, and the movement ends in the most unassuming way. Perhaps if it ended loudly this piece would be performed more often. Beethoven dedicated this sonata to one of his piano students, the Countess Babette von Keglevics, who lived not far away at the time; Beethoven often turned up at her house for lessons still wearing his slippers, dressing gown, and a peaked nightcap.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2006