Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3

    Description by John Palmer

    The timing of Beethoven's early publications was shrewdly calculated. Beethoven performed some of these works often enough for them to become familiar, and people encouraged him to publish them (the Trios, Op. 1, are an example). That his publications would be a success was almost a given, especially since the early ones involved the instrument on which he was an acknowledged virtuoso, the piano. It is also significant that his first publications were not symphonies, operas, or string quartets, genres associated with Haydn and Mozart. That his first 10 piano sonatas, as well as the two of Op. 49, were composed before Beethoven attempted a symphony or string quartet suggests that the piano was something of an experimental medium for the young composer, who was coming to grips with organizing large forms.

    The three works of Op. 10 are in C minor, F major, and D major. The first was begun in 1795 and the third completed by July 1798. Published in September 1798, by Eder in Vienna, the set is dedicated to Countess Anna Margarete von Browne, whose husband, Count Johann von Browne (1767-1827), was one of Beethoven's chief early patrons. The Countess also received the dedications of the Variations, WoO 76 and WoO 71. An early critic praised the Sonatas of Op. 10, noting that they were composed in "an earnest, manly style."

    Already in the opening Presto of the third sonata, Beethoven expands the traditional sonata form movement, but not the expository sections. It is true that the main theme is 10 measures long and followed by a six-measure contrasting phrase, but this was less striking to Beethoven's contemporaries than a transition that is twice as long as the theme. There is such a wealth of material that it is best to discuss the work in terms of "theme groups," not merely themes. The second theme and closing groups have 11 contrasting ideas among them, and the momentary shift to the minor mode in the second theme group is more than just a colorful device; it has long-range implications. When this material returns in the recapitulation, it does so on the tonic minor (D minor), the relative minor of F major and the key of the second movement. This brief appearance of a "flat" key in the recapitulation is anticipated by the "flat" key areas of the development section.

    Marked Largo e mesto and in 6/8, the second movement is cast in D minor. Beethoven explores the full range of the keyboard in this emotive sonata-form structure before it dissolves in the manner of the "Funeral March" of the Third Symphony.

    The Minuet returns to D major. In a move somewhat unusual for Beethoven, the second theme of the minuet is very different from the first, providing the same contrast typical of a Haydn minuet. The trio, in G major, does not follow the traditional format and gives the pianist a chance to do some fancy hand crossing.

    The Rondo finale is a showcase for Beethoven's variation technique. The rondo theme is altered upon return, as is the material of the first episode, which is spliced to the beginning of a new episode later in the movement. Fragments of the rondo theme tease the listener in this high energy movement.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Presto
    2. Largo e mesto
    3. Menuetto. Allegro
    4. Rondo. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Albany Records TROY 1661
    2016 Delos DE 3526
    2016 Sony Classical 88875119792
    2016 Sony Classical 88985341762
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975050
    2016 Skylark Music SKY 1601
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795978
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon B002436502
    2016 Warner Classics 557828
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Ondine ODE 12682D
    2015 Avie AV 2320
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Doremi Records DHR 8030
    2015 Sony Classical 88843014702
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9123
    2014 Telos / Telos Music TLS 194
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4794120
    2014 Claves CD 50130413
    2014 Claves
    2014 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186490
    2014 BIS BIS 2000
    2014 RCA Red Seal 88843003502
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002240
    2014 Telos / Telos Music TLS 190
    2013 Entertainment Group 1052
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Mirare MIR 187
    2013 Praga / Praga Digitals PRDDSD 350079
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Entertainment Group 6103
    2013 Warner Classics 2564639427
    2013 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 94221
    2013 Decca 4785093
    2012 Entertainment Group 11805
    2012 Decca
    2012 Del Aguila DA 55307
    2012 Decca
    2012 EMI Classics
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099946495228
    2012 EMI Classics 3275022
    2012 Azica Records ACD 71277
    2012 Chandos CHAN 107203
    2012 Marquis Classics 774718151322
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Music & Arts MA 1263
    2012 Sony Classical 88725412862
    2012 Gramola GLA 98893
    2012 Sony Classical 88691912562
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Cambria CD 11751185
    2011 Decca 4782607
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    2011 Transart Live TR101
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    2010 Gramola 98889
    2010 Deux-Elles 1161
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    2010 Sony Classical 88697685272
    2009 Denon Records
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    2009 Document / Documents 223051
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    2008 ATMA Classique 22486
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    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 453221
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    2008 Audite 23408
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921741
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    2007 Arbiter 154
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    2001 Arbiter ARBITER130
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    Dante 107120
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    London 425590
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    Brilliant 92132/5
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    Erato
    Brilliant 92773/3
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    Arte Nova 7432130460
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    Philips CISpf
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    ECM 000592202
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    Divox 25208
    Pyramid Records 13500
    EMI Music Distribution 62863
    Brilliant 205213