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Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 14, Op. 27/2 "Moonlight" I. Adagio sostenuto (Ashkenazy)

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Published on Nov 25, 2009

Adagio sostenuto, first movement from Piano Sonata No. 14, Op. 27/2 "Quasi una Fantasia" (Like a Fantasy) / "Moonlight"

Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano

The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata (Mondscheinsonate in German), was completed in 1801. It is rumored to be dedicated to his pupil, 17-year-old Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, with whom Beethoven was, or had been, in love. The name "Moonlight" Sonata derives from an 1832 description of the first movement by music critic Ludwig Rellstab, who compared it to moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne. Beethoven included the phrase "Quasi una fantasia" in the title partly because the sonata does not follow the traditional sonata pattern where the first movement is in regular sonata form, and where the three or four movements are arranged in a fast-slow-[fast]-fast sequence. Instead, the Moonlight sonata possesses an end-weighted trajectory; the climax is held off until the third movement. To be sure, the deviation from traditional sonata form is intentional. In his analysis of the Moonlight sonata, German critic Paul Bekker states that The opening sonata-allegro movement gave the work a definite character from the beginningwhich succeeding movements could supplement but not change. Beethoven rebelled against this determinative quality in the first movement. He wanted a prelude, an introduction, not a proposition. By placing the most dramatic form (sonata form) at the end of the piece, Beethoven could magnify the drama inherent in the form. The first movement, in C-sharp minor is written in a rough, truncated sonata form. The movement opens with an octave in the left hand and a triplet figuration in the right. A melody that Hector Berlioz called a "lamentation", mostly by the right hand, is played against an accompanying ostinato triplet rhythm, simultaneously played by the right hand. The movement is played pianissimo or "very quietly", and the loudest it gets is mezzo-forte or "moderately loud". The movement has made a powerful impression on many listeners; for instance, Berlioz wrote that it "is one of those poems that human language does not know how to qualify." The work was very popular in Beethoven's day, to the point of exasperating the composer, who remarked to Carl Czerny, "Surely I've written better things."

Quoted from Edmund Morris' "Beethoven: The Universal Composer"

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)

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