Ludwig van Beethoven

Sonata for violin & piano No. 6 in A major, Op. 30/1

    Description by John Palmer

    Beethoven composed the Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Op. 30, in 1801 - 1802, completing most of the work between March and May 1802, after moving to Heiligenstadt in an attempt to improve his hearing. They developed during a traumatic moment in Beethoven's life when he was forced to admit to himself that he was losing his hearing. In October 1802, only four months after completing the Op. 30 set, Beethoven wrote what is now called the Heiligenstadt Testament, in which he attempts to admit to his brothers, and indeed to all people, that he is going deaf. In this amazing document, which appears never to have been sent, the composer discloses that he had seriously considered suicide. Despite, or possibly because of, this psychological suffering, Beethoven completed his Second Symphony, the Bagatelles, Op. 33, the Op. 31 piano sonatas and the Op. 30 violin sonatas during the spring, summer, and fall of 1802. Possibly because it does not feature the dramatic power of its siblings, the Sonata in A Major is the least performed of the Op. 30 set.

    Beethoven's predilection for variation and development are apparent from the opening of the Allegro first movement, where the repetition of the liquid first theme is four measures longer than the original. Beethoven almost immediately moves away from the tonic, arriving at the dominant, E major, after only another 16 measures. The rest of the exposition is spent away from the tonic. A sense of relaxation pervades the rest of the movement as Beethoven begins the development with the tonic moving to the subdominant, D major, and writes a quiet transition into a recapitulation that arrives without fanfare. The predominant A natural pedal in the coda compensates for the little time spent on the tonic in the exposition.

    Marked Adagio, molto espressivo, the hauntingly lyrical middle movement, in D major, falls into an ABACA, or rondo, form with a coda. Beethoven set the poignant C section in B flat major, which wields pathetic power by being a half step above the dominant, A major. Beethoven makes the most of this relationship at the end of section C, where by sliding down a half step from B flat and up a half step from G sharp (an interval called an augmented sixth) he instantly moves back to the tonic. This type of modulation was one of the most effective devices available to classical-era composers.

    The published finale of the Sonata in A Major, "Kreutzer," Op. 47, was originally intended for Op. 30, No. 1. However, for the finale of the Sonata in A Major, Op. 30, No. 1, Beethoven chose variation form, which was unusual at this point in his career. The movement includes an original theme and six variations. The rising arpeggio opening of the theme is also a salient feature of the first theme of the Allegro and the A theme of the Adagio.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro
    2. Adagio
    3. Allegretto con Variazioni

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Analekta AN 28794
    2018 Decca
    2018 Oehms Classics OC 019
    2017 Coro COR 16154
    2017 Blue Griffin Recording BG 415
    2017 Onyx / Onyx Classics ONYX 4170
    2017 Rubicon Classics RCD 1010
    2017 Rubicon / Rubicon Classics RCD 1010
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295763084
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796220
    2016 Aparte AP 129
    2016 Chandos CHAN 108883
    2016 Nimbus Alliance NI 6247
    2016 Skylark Music SKY 0101
    2016 Gramola GRAM 99106
    2016 Azica Records ACD 71305
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795964
    2016 Gramola GRAM 99053
    2016 EuroArts / Warner Classics 555050
    2016 Warner Classics 555054
    2015 Challenge Classics CC 72650
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794708
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4794647
    2014 Warner Classics 541222
    2014 Warner Classics 2564634929
    2014 Telos Music TLS 193
    2014 Erato 2564624223
    2014 Ars Produktion ARS 38145
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Le Marquis / Marquis Classics MQSCD 81517
    2013 Phaia Music PHU 03234
    2013 Warner Classics
    2013 Newton Classics 8802204
    2013 Decca
    2013 Entertainment Group 11610
    2013 RCA Red Seal 8876544015
    2013 Regis Records 7010
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 001649002
    2012 Zig Zag / Zig Zag Territoires ZIG 307
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94310
    2012 Bridge / The Bridge BRIDGE 9389AD
    2012 Supraphon SU 40772
    2012 Entertainment Group 4023
    2012 Brilliant Classics 8402
    2012 Music & Arts MA 1225
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 002894779464
    2011 Doremi Records DHR 80113
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Wigmore Hall Live WHLive0045
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 EtCetera Records 1904
    2010 Erato
    2010 Erato / Virgin Classics 5099964200
    2010 Accent 24214
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Nimbus 2553/56
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Decca
    2010 Decca 4782541
    2009 Doremi Records 7946-9
    2009 IDIS / Ital Disc 656062
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926504
    2009 Music & Arts MACD1223
    2009 Decca 4781149
    2009 Decca
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926413
    2008 Metier 2005
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 447058
    2008 Romeo Entertainment 7266/8
    2008 Woodhouse Editions 803/6
    2008 Brilliant 93161
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Claves 2610
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2007 Decca
    2007 Vista Vera 81
    2006 Preiser Records 90703
    2006 Cypres Records 1640
    2006 Rca Red Seal 667888
    2006 EMI Classics 0946350854
    2006 EMI Classics
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 000459902
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon
    2005 Warner Classics
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474648
    2004 Artemis Classics 1585
    2004 Oehms 341
    2004 Music & Arts 1143
    2004 Brilliant 92387
    2004 Symposium 1312
    2003 Classica d'Oro 2018
    2003 Music & Arts CD1113
    2003 Music & Arts MACD1113
    2003 Doremi Records 7807
    2002 Nuova Era 7368
    2002 Centaur Records 2803/05
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471495
    2002 Calliope 3251/3
    2002 EMI Music Distribution 74804
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 74447
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 463605
    2001 Philips 468406
    2000 Biddulph Recordings 80202
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Angel Records 73647
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78876
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 457619
    1997 Point Classics 267104
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 743-2GCB4
    1996 Sony Classical 67196
    1996 Philips 446524
    1996 Sony Classical 64524
    1995 Vox / Vox Box 3503
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 52569
    1994 Naxos 550286
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 445652
    1990 Pearl 9354
    1988 London 421453
    1984 Philips 412570
    MusicMasters 67197
    LYS 444-445
    BMG 60991
    Cascade Records 2239
    Amado Classics 03022
    Deutsche Grammophon 415874
    Calliope 9252
    Meridian Records 89019
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 38223-25
    Brilliant 92387/23
    Brilliant 93161/7
    Brilliant 99116
    Fono Enterprise 99326
    CBS Records Masterworks 39681
    CBS Records 39681
    Lys 33/35
    Russian Revelation 10047
    Brilliant 93525/31
    Grammofono 2000 78882
    RCA 7705
    BMG 0902661747
    Brilliant Classics 8402/10
    Musical Heritage 5091707