Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op. 2/3

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This is the last of the three sonatas from the Op. 2 group that Beethoven, more or less, composed simultaneously. Like the First Piano Sonata, the Third draws on material from his youthful work, Piano Quartet No. 3, and, like the Second, it contains some significant innovations. The first movement (Allegro con brio) is dominated by an witty opening theme initiated by a figuration in double-thirds. Additional motifs generated from the initial theme complete the first theme group, and while all the general mood remains lighthearted, the music is also dramatic and replete with characteristic Beethovenian drive and assertiveness, this energy exemplified by brilliantly ascending arpeggiated chords. The second main theme, based on material from the aforementioned Piano Quartet, is lyrical, combining an air of graceful nonchalance and elegant spontaneity. What follows is a remarkable passage that begins with the opening theme and goes on to feature three ascending arpeggiated chords, the last of which, an augmented triad that sounds at first like a bold misstep, is both mischievous and unexpected, not to mention absolutely daring for its time. In the development section, Beethoven deftly moves through several modulations and then briefly suspends all development, indeed, all thematic activity. Suggesting the despair of a traveler who is lost, this static moment ends when the main theme reappears in a more assertive form. The movement ends with a coda, which Beethoven enlarges to monumental proportions, in violation of any traditional conception of a coda. The Adagio second movement features a lovely, somewhat ponderous, theme that seems to hesitate as it moves along. It is played twice the same way, then is heard boldly and in a different key. After this restatement, it returns, more or less, to its original form, but is heard now mostly in the upper register. The brief third movement Scherzo (Allegro) begins with a confident, impish theme, whose rhythms and melodic fragments spray the movement with much color and delight. There is a brief trio section, which is rather athematic, but creates a contrast with its rich arpeggios and stormy atmosphere. The finale, marked Allegro assai, is a rondo with a sparkly theme which moves rapidly upward, then tumbles humorously down. This arched pattern dominates the movement even as thematic transformations occur. A second theme appears that is dreamy and lyrical, providing effective contrast. There are many transitions and episodic passages throughout, imparting a range of color, illuminating the joyful mood. The Sonata concludes with a recapitulation and a lengthy, brilliant coda. Like the other sonatas in the Op. 2 group, this work is dedicated to Joseph Haydn.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro con brio
    2. Adagio
    3. Scherzo. Allegro
    4. Allegro assai

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 MMG MCD 10009
    2018 Signum Classics SIGCD 527
    2018 SWR Klassik SWR 19057CD
    2018 Audite AUD 21451
    2018 Supraphon SU 42522
    2018 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 17065
    2017 Brilliant Classics BRI 95103
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797581
    2017 Decca 4815323
    2017 Warner Classics 9029586922
    2017 Nonesuch 7559793638
    2017 Albany Records TROY 1661
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16030
    2017 Sony Classical 88985395212
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797371
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975050
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon B002436502
    2016 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875032272
    2016 Challenge Classics CC 72707
    2016 Eurodisc 88875199912
    2015 Praga DSD 350095
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Avie AV 2320
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Sony Classical 88843014702
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9123
    2014 Claves CD 50130413
    2014 Claves
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4794120
    2014 Ondine ODE 12482D
    2014 Broken Audio BRAU 1150
    2014 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186490
    2014 BIS BIS 2000
    2013 MSR Classics MS 1465
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Mirare MIR 187
    2013 ICA Classics ICAC 5095
    2013 Claudio CB 55712
    2013 Praga / Praga Digitals PRDDSD 350079
    2013 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT 318
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Regis Records RRC 1398
    2012 Decca
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    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099946495228
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    2012 Alto ALC 1158
    2012 Chandos CHAN 107203
    2012 Marquis Classics 774718151322
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    2012 Sony Classical 88725412862
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    2012 Sony Classical 88691912562
    2012 Urania WS 121175
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    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 1518
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    Dante 107120
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    Aura Music 202
    The Piano Library 252
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    Fabula Classica 12078
    Classica d'Oro 3015
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    Cascade Records 2221
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    Arkadia 903
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    London 425590
    Philips 412576
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    Erato
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    Philips 420153
    Brilliant 93525/45
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    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 332
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    As Disc 11012
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    Amadeus Speciale 4243
    The Piano Library 240
    Music & Arts 640
    ECM 000507102
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    EMI Music Distribution 62863
    MDG 6421086
    Aura Music 217
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    Discurios
    Connoisseur Society 4177
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    Hommage 7001850
    Brilliant 205212
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    Memoria 999001