Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 2/1

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Though this sonata is obviously an early piece, it still sounds very much like Beethoven in its driving rhythms, muscularity and overall sonic world. It is a fairly serious piece, too, but does not contain much that anyone would assess as profound or innovative. Still, it is a strong composition, even though it shows outside influences: for all the composer's stylistic traits throughout the work, it cannot be denied that the voice of Mozart is present, most notably in the first movement. Beethoven was still evolving his style at this point in his career and had not yet even written an important work for orchestra. For whatever flaws one might point out in this composition, it nevertheless fully deserves to be in the company of the other sonatas comprising the mighty canon of 32. Beethoven dedicated this sonata to composer Joseph Haydn. A typical performance of it lasts from 16 to 20 minutes.

    The first movement begins with a bouncy theme that hints at seriousness but remains rather bright and energetic. It must be noted that it seems to have been lifted from the finale of the Mozart Symphony No. 40, whose main theme only differs significantly in its key of G minor. Two more themes appear, the former a bit more serious and darker. The development section turns more intense, focusing on the drive and darker aspects of the thematic material. Ultimately this Allegretto con brio is solidly constructed, if unadventurous, and its thematic similarity to the Mozart Symphony serves in the end to illustrate the quite different ways the two composers treated the same material.

    The ensuing Adagio derives its main theme from the slow movement of Beethoven's Piano Quartet, No. 3, WoO. 36. The melody is serenely joyful in its pristine Classicism, and while it is rather simple and direct, it is also effective in capturing a mood of ecstasy and bliss.

    The Menuetto third movement (Allegretto) is robust and not intended to sound danceable. It is full of color and features an attractive trio, after which the main material is reprised.

    The finale (Prestissimo) may be the most Beethovenian movement here. It begins with a manic rush of energy, the theme seemingly in frantic pursuit of something elusive. The alternate subject is playful and comparatively dainty, featuring upper register sonorities that could hardly offer greater contrast. This movement is in sonata form, and so after the reappearance of the main theme, there is a quite effective development section, which ends as it sort of grows back into the recapitulation.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. Adagio
    3. Menuetto. Allegretto
    4. Prestissimo

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 BR Klassik 900907
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975050
    2016 Warner Classics 557828
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Avie AV 2320
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Genuin GEN 15368
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9123
    2014 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4794120
    2014 Claves CD 50130413
    2014 Claves
    2014 Ondine ODE 12482D
    2014 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186490
    2014 BIS BIS 2000
    2014 TYX Art TXA 14044
    2013 MSR Classics MS 1465
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Mirare MIR 187
    2013 Claudio CB 55712
    2013 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 318
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2012 Decca
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099946495228
    2012 Decca
    2012 EMI Classics
    2012 EMI Classics 5099995391328
    2012 BR Klassik 900115
    2012 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 94609
    2012 Chandos CHAN 107203
    2012 ATMA Classique 22489
    2012 Marquis Classics 774718151322
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Sony Classical 88725412862
    2012 Sony Classical 88691912562
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Cambria CD 11751185
    2011 Decca 478 2607
    2011 Decca 4782607
    2011 Transart Live TR101
    2011 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2011 Oxford Philomusica OP 001
    2011 RCA Red Seal 88697875102
    2011 Transart Live / Transart Live TR111
    2011 Parnassus Records PACD 960512
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Chandos 10616
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94075
    2010 Musical Concepts ALN 1901
    2010 EMI Classics 6483092
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Solal 6
    2010 Orfeo 808109
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 290190211
    2009 Decca 4781821
    2009 Decca 00028947821410
    2009 Caro Mitis 62007
    2009 Document / Documents 223051
    2009 IDI / IDIS / Ital Disc 6573/74
    2009 Documents / Documents Classics / Membran 232669
    2009 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic 98200
    2009 Azica Records 71253
    2008 Bridge 9266
    2008 Decca 4657132
    2008 DG Deutsche Grammophon 447966
    2008 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008 PentaTone Classics PTC5186067
    2008 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8571251
    2008 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2008 Berlin Classics 184472
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921741
    2008 Brilliant 93761
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascavelle 3100
    2007 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT2041001
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2007 Eroica Distribution 3331
    2007 Parlophone
    2006 Connoisseur Society 4261
    2006 Universal
    2006 Melodiya MELCD 1000823
    2006 Haenssler 98202
    2006 Brilliant 99002
    2006 Globe 7002
    2006 Philips 475 7947
    2006 Philips 4757497
    2006 Decca 4757498
    2006 EMI Classics 347826
    2005 Romeo Entertainment 7233/41
    2005 BIS 1363
    2005 Brilliant 92773
    2005 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT041001
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 ECM 476 3054
    2005 Alpha Productions 072
    2005 Decca 4756835
    2004 Newport Classic 59001
    2004 Stradivarius 33669
    2004 RCA 57688
    2004 EMI Classics 57730
    2004 Resonance 101
    2004 EMI Classics 62700
    2004 Newport Classic 60171/3
    2004 Brilliant 92387
    2004 Dynamic 432/1-9
    2003 Artemis Classics 1237
    2003 Sony Classical Essential Classics 87993
    2002 Claves 502104
    2002 Naxos Historical 8110693
    2002 Music & Arts 4640
    2002 Brilliant 205211
    2001 Tahra 394/400
    2001 Classica d'Oro 9001
    2001 Hungaroton 41003
    2000 Arte Nova 40740
    2000 Testament 1188
    2000 Arkadia 78531
    2000 GM Recordings 5001
    1999 Chandos 8582
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon 463127
    1999 Arte Nova 7432127762
    1999 Cavalli 206
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Arkadia 78901
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    1999 Music & Arts 775
    1998 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    1998 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243572912
    1998 Philips 462358
    1998 Arabesque 6637
    1998 Zephyr 10197
    1998 Zephyr 97
    1997 Nimbus 1774
    1997 DG Deutsche Grammophon 453724
    1997 Centaur Records 2499
    1997 London 443706
    1996 Philips 446909
    1996 Hungaroton 31627
    1996 GM Recordings 2050
    1996 Analekta 24010
    1996 Music & Arts 946
    1995 Sony Classical 64397
    1995 Decca
    1995 Vox 7514
    1995 Pearl 9083
    1994 Sony Music Distribution 64490
    1994 Arabesque 6638
    1994 Naxos 505002
    1994 Philips 442124
    1994 Chandos 9212
    1994 Sony Classical 52638
    1994 Telarc Distribution 80400
    1993 Naxos 550150
    1993 Elecktra Nonsuch 79328
    1993 ASV 6055
    1992 Vox 5056
    1992 Erato 45598
    1992 Decca 433882
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 077776442921
    1991 DG Deutsche Grammophon 429306
    1991 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777763765
    1991 CBS Masterworks 45821
    1991 Philips 432301
    1991 EMI Music Distribution 767197
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 62901
    1990 DG Deutsche Grammophon 413759
    1990 Philips 412575
    1990 Teldec 71719
    1989 Telarc Distribution 80214
    UNT College of Music
    EXL 4212
    Dante 107120
    Classica d'Oro 3015
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 5010
    Amado Classics 03011
    Cascade Records 2220
    Denon Records 18010
    Globe 5100
    London 425590
    Philips 412576
    MiClaire 100408
    Denon Records 78849
    Erato
    Brilliant 92773/1
    Brilliant 93525/45
    Bongiovanni 5580
    Brilliant 92387/10
    Sony Classical Essential Classics 8869713094262
    EXT 3001
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 330
    Ades 20401
    The Piano Library 240
    Music & Arts 640
    Brilliant 99003
    Brilliant 99103
    ECM 000507102
    EMI Music Distribution 62863
    Brilliant 205212
    Arlecchino 62
    UNT College of Music