Ludwig van Beethoven

Piano Sonata No. 18 in E flat major ("Hunt"), Op. 31/3

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This was the third of a group of piano sonatas with which Beethoven took another large step forward in the genre he ultimately revolutionized. This one was last of the 32 works to have a minuet movement, clearly a holdover from the eighteenth century that the composer subsequently felt compelled to abandon. The so-called "Hunt" Sonata's first movement, marked Allegro, begins with a three-note motif which seems to gently demand the listener's attention. From this fragment and the vigorous bass response of four chords, Beethoven ingeniously builds the first theme group. A fast, jaunty melody launches the second subject and keeps the mood light and relatively calm. The material is repeated and the development ensues, based mainly on the themes in the first group, though Beethoven uses all the previous material. The rhythmic appeal at the outset of the development section owes much to the composer's deft transformation of the bass response to the opening motif. The recapitulation follows and a brief coda closes the movement. The second movement is an unorthodox Scherzo marked Allegro vivace. It is unorthodox because it lacks a trio section, features substantial thematic development, and is in 2/4 (instead of triple) time. The main theme is fast-paced and optimistic, forming a double-arch pattern. A secondary idea here sounds almost like humorous commentary on the main material. Another theme, frantic and breathless, turns the mood toward the manic and ecstatic. The material is then developed, with much humor emerging as the music slides and slips via colorful glissando-like effects. The recapitulation features ingenious changes in the themes, and the movement closes with a brilliant, short coda. The third movement (Menuetto: Moderato e grazioso) is charming and without doubt the most traditional panel in the sonata. Clearly it hearkens back to the previous century, and perhaps, after the rather "modern" Scherzo, the composer intended it as a contrast. An elegant main theme leads to vigorous, almost disruptive, secondary material. The themes are repeated and a coda closes the movement. Beginning with a rush of energy, the finale Presto con fuoco features a spry descending melody with left-hand accompaniment. Another theme, likened by some to a "horn call" (thus giving this sonata its rather inappropriate nickname) appears, and the narrative unfolds unrelentingly. There is much playfulness in this rhythmic music: the "horn call" theme, for instance, seems to bounce all over the sonic landscape and the energetic, buoyant mood never flags. After the exposition repeat, there is some development of the materials, and a new theme appears. After the reprise, a brief coda closes the sonata.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. [Scherzo] Allegretto vivace
    3. Menuetto. Moderato e grazioso
    4. Presto con fuoco

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Victor Elmaleh Collection CAG 121
    2018 Signum Classics SIGCD 527
    2018 Audite AUD 21451
    2018 ABC Classics
    2017 Steinway / Steinway & Sons 30080
    2017 Claudio CB 55772
    2017 Warner Classics 9029586922
    2017 Nonesuch 7559793638
    2017 APR (Appian) APR 7403
    2017 Albany Records TROY 1661
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16030
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797371
    2016 Ondine ODE 12902
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975050
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon B002436502
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2015 Avie AV 2320
    2015 Sony Classical 88875032222
    2015 Decca 002369302
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9124
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4794120
    2014 Claves
    2014 Claves CD 50130413
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon 4794325
    2014 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186490
    2014 BIS BIS 2000
    2014 Decca
    2014 Azica Records ACD 71288
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Mirare MIR 187
    2013 ATMA Classique ACD 22490
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Entertainment Group 6103
    2013 Warner Classics 2564639427
    2013 Ars Produktion ARS 38140
    2012 Decca
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099946495228
    2012 Decca
    2012 EMI Classics
    2012 EMI Classics 3275022
    2012 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 94609
    2012 Praga / Praga Digitals DSD 350066
    2012 Zig Zag Territoires ZIG 304
    2012 Marquis Classics 774718151322
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Sony Classical 88725412862
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Sony Classical 88691912562
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94399
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Cambria CD 11751185
    2011 Decca 478 2607
    2011 Decca 4782607
    2011 Transart Live TR101
    2011 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2011 MSR Classics MS1368
    2011 RCA Red Seal 88697875102
    2011 Documents / Membran 232868
    2011 Transart Live TR115
    2011 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186500
    2011 Parnassus Records PACD 960512
    2010 Chandos 10616
    2010 Musical Concepts ALN 1901
    2010 Brilliant Classics 94075
    2010 EMI Classics 6483092
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 MSR Classics 1284
    2010 IDIS 658182
    2010 Oehms Classics 620
    2010 Audite 23420
    2010 Bridge 9274
    2010 Solal 6
    2010 Decca 4782541
    2010 Decca
    2010 Orfeo 808109
    2009 Decca 4781821
    2009 Harmonia Mundi 290190211
    2009 Decca 00028947821410
    2009 Document / Documents 223051
    2009 Colosseum / Zebralution
    2009 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic 98200
    2008 Decca 4657132
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 447966
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon
    2008 Thorofon / Zebralution
    2008 Urania 352
    2008 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8571254
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 453221
    2008 Doremi Records 7937-9
    2008 Berlin Classics 184472
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4776656
    2008 Brilliant 93761
    2007 Connoisseur Society 4263/2
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 BIS 1572
    2007 Cascavelle 3100
    2007 Sony BMG / Sony Classical 88697148292
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 ECM New Series 0009660
    2007 ECM / ECM New Series ECM 1945-46
    2007 Orfeo 706061
    2007 Philips
    2007 Philips 4757739
    2007 Decca 4758613
    2007 Universal
    2007 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2007 Parlophone
    2006 Ivory Records IC76001
    2006 Universal
    2006 Berlin Classics 0013672
    2006 PentaTone Classics PTC5186063
    2006 Melodiya MELCD 1000828
    2006 Haenssler 98205
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 002894776360
    2006 Brilliant 99002
    2006 VAI Audio 1250
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 000721702
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 000764972
    2006 Decca 4757498
    2006 Edel Records 2822
    2006 EMI Classics 347826
    2005 Harmonia Mundi HMC90 1902
    2005 Romeo Entertainment 7233/41
    2005 Brilliant 92773
    2005 Decca 4756909
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 Decca 4756835
    2005 Philips 000410502
    2004 Palexa 529
    2004 Newport Classic 59001
    2004 Stradivarius 33669
    2004 Berlin Classics 0092792
    2004 Naxos Historical 8110760
    2004 Resonance 101
    2004 EMI Classics 62700
    2004 Newport Classic 60172/3
    2004 Brilliant 92387
    2004 Dynamic 432/1-9
    2004 Brilliant 92229
    2003 Andante 1110
    2003 VAI Audio 1209
    2002 Music & Arts 4640
    2002 Musikszene Schweiz 6193
    2002 Brilliant 205211
    2002 Praga 356020-34
    2001 Tahra 394/400
    2001 Classica d'Oro 9001
    2001 Hungaroton 41003
    2001 Classica d'Oro 3017
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63014
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63036
    2000 Arte Nova 40740
    2000 Testament 1190
    2000 Chandos 9842
    2000 Arkadia 78533
    2000 GM Recordings 5001
    2000 Music & Arts 1059
    2000 Rca Red Seal 63079
    1999 Philips 456967
    1999 Philips 438624
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463127
    1999 GM Recordings 2067
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Arkadia 78901
    1999 The Piano Library 268
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon
    1999 Philips 456829
    1999 Philips 462232
    1999 Philips 454987
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon
    1998 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243572912
    1998 Philips 462358
    1998 Zephyr 10597
    1998 Philips 456877
    1998 Zephyr 97
    1997 Nimbus 1774
    1997 Hungaroton 31629
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453724
    1997 London 443706
    1997 Harmonia Mundi 354022
    1996 Forlane 16663
    1996 Philips 446909
    1996 Analekta 24010
    1996 Vox 7532
    1996 Music & Arts 910
    1996 Praga 354001.15
    1996 Philips 446920
    1995 EMI Classics 55226
    1995 Globe Records 5136
    1994 Naxos 505002
    1994 Praga 254021
    1994 Sony Classical 52642
    1994 Naxos 550166
    1994 Telarc Distribution 80400
    1994 Philips 442464
    1994 Pearl 9123
    1993 Decca
    1993 Philips 438134
    1993 ASV 6060
    1993 Elecktra Nonsuch 79328
    1992 Vox 5042
    1992 Decca 433882
    1992 Erato 45812
    1991 Deutsche Grammophon 429306
    1991 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777763765
    1991 CBS Records 45822
    1991 Philips 432301
    1991 Book-of-the-Month 79212
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 62901
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 413766
    1990 Telarc Distribution 80185
    1990 Philips 412575
    1990 Teldec 71719
    1987 CBS Records 42319
    Dante 107120
    Amado Classics 03015
    Cascade Records 2224
    Decca 473228
    Philips 434168
    London 425590
    Philips Classics 412577
    Denon Records 73006
    Classic Art
    Brilliant 93525/50
    Brilliant 92773/6
    Sony Classical 88697130942-49
    CBS Records Masterworks 45822
    Arte Nova 7432137311
    Brilliant 99108
    Brilliant 99008
    Brilliant 92387/15
    Intaglio 7111
    Intaglio 711
    Ades 14138
    BMG 61260
    Globe Records 5018
    Music & Arts 640
    As Disc 343
    Pyramid Records 13500
    Music & Arts 542
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 5011
    EMI Music Distribution 62863
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 566
    Russian Disc 11208
    Dell'Arte 7004
    MDG 6421086
    No Labels
    Bayard Musique 340583
    Robert Edward Thies
    Historical Performers 34
    Brilliant 205214