Recorded on 07/09/2010, uploaded on 07/12/2010
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major,
commonly known as the Waldstein, is regarded as on the three great piano
sonatas of his middle period, alongside the Appasionata
and Les Adieux sonatas. The work was completed in 1804 during
what is known as Beethoven's "Heroic" decade (1803-1812). It
surpasses his previous sonatas in terms of scope and technique, setting the
stage for Beethoven's later piano sonatas as well as for the rest of the
century. The work is dedicated to Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein
of Vienna, both a patron and close friend of Beethoven, thus giving the work
its title. In Italy, the sonata is also known by the name "L'Aurora"
(The Dawn) because of the opening of the third movement.
The Waldstein surpasses Beethoven's
previous sonatas in both depth and scope. The first movement marks the
beginning of expansive musical development in the piano sonatas much in the
same way the Eroica Symphony heralded
the innovations of the later symphonies. Indeed, the Waldstein not only set the tone for Beethoven's later piano
sonatas, but also for the composers that would follow him. One has only to look
at the extensive development in the sonatas of Johannes Brahms, for example, to
see the lasting impact of Beethoven's music.
Another revolutionary innovation of the Waldstein was the use of the mediant major key for the second theme
of the first movement. According to traditional sonata form, the second theme
is stated in the key of the dominant when the first theme is in a major key,
and this rule was almost invariably adhered to throughout the Classical period.
However, instead of using the key of G major, Beethoven instead modulates to E
major. While not entirely unprecedented, it was the first major work in which
Beethoven did this. He would use this technique in several of his later pieces,
including the Hammerklavier Sonata and it was taken up and used widely
by the later Romantics.
The second movement is an agitated adagio that serves as an introduction to the
finale, which it leads into without break. The finale centers around a
beautiful, tranquil theme in C major announced pianissimo at the beginning. However, the movement is not all
peaceful and sunny, making its way through turbulent episodes in the keys of C
minor and A minor. The movement ends with a prestissimo
coda based on the C major theme. Joseph DuBois
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