Beethoven piano sonata no 28 in A major, opus 101

by richibi

Erte - "The Angel"

The Angel



Beethoven’s piano sonata no 28, opus 101,
in A major
, is the first of what is considered
to be his late piano sonatas, as opposed to
early and middle, three entirely distinct
periods that are easily recognizable upon
closer listening, the early ones are bold,
even headstrong, with Beethoven’s ever
characteristic vigor and Promethean authority,
the length themselves of his early works are
a testament to his sense of his own great
personal validity, the first four, to my mind,
go on much longer than often enough they
should, a typically youthful presumption on
his part, and are musically at best trite, I find,
after their first expositions, the repeats come
as redundant, and tolerable merely, surprises,
even the famous 8th, the Pathétique“, opus 13,
is, I think, too brash and impudent, however in
this manner, nevertheless admittedly, entirely
effective, listen

the Pastorale“, of the middle period, opus 28,
no 15
, is where I deem the music to become
henceforward sublime, it has a settled
confidence that brims with not only technical
wizardry but with also positively enchanting
and entrancing musical ideas, bursting like
very flowers in springtime, with colour and
inspired, effervescent, imagination

the late period is where Beethoven becomes,
however, a sage, a prophet, and indeed a
hierarch in the new secular order of a
reconstituted Heaven, after all, someone
had to take the place of the now discredited
angels, Nietzsche called them Übermenschen,

the 28th sonata starts out slowly, or rather,
more slowly than the earlier forthright ones,
already a sign of less physical, more
measured and considered reponses, my
impression here is of a grandfather visiting
his granchildren, jovial but not too disportive,
merely jaunty, always cheery but for a moment
of haunting melancholy, at the adagio, before
becoming congenial and avuncular again,
with then a big, boastful ending, snapping
staunchly his patriarchal suspenders,
getting the last, and traditional, word, with
a firm, which is to say, a foursquare-major-
chord, finish, the aural equivalent of turning
out the lights

musically, however, the progressions are
exploratory, incremental, more and more
layered with possible, and often apparently
rejected outcomes, in order to try out
something more fitting, maybe, more
accurate, a deconstruction, in other words,
of musical ideas, an investigation, in search
of a viable musically cohesive path

in the 28th sonata Beethoven, I think, is
doodling, however, coming up with the
methods of his great addresses, the
language here is not yet philosophically
precise, a smattering merely of pianistically
plausible ideas, musical sketches, the first
stirrings here, you’ll gather, of formal jazz

in the next sonata, the 29th, the still
unsurpassed “Hammerklavier”, he writes
the definitive book, speaking for music in
the forthcoming history of the world, and
determining its future path, we are still
moving along on his transcendent carpet,
no one ‘s come along still to give us a
more assured ride, kind of like Homer,
some would say Shakespeare, others
Albert Einstein, other, incidentally,
post-Christian, post Revolutionary

who do you presently pray to, who are
your angels, who your Superwomen,
towards what do you aspire,
towards whom

Superwomen, -men, incidentally,
cultivate their own efflorescence,
manifest their own, I think, destinies,
or, if you like, their own Heaven

much as I believe angels also do

Mozart’s Fantasy in C minor on the
same program
shows him in a nearly
Beethovenian mode atavistically, much
more somber than he usually is, but he’s
nevertheless easily distinguished by
his much less intricate musical
accompaniment and his much more
rigorous melodic line, you’re more
likely to hum it

Mozart also composes from the nursery,
I find, the exhilaration of playful discovery,
you can see the toy soldiers, the golden
tresses on little milkmaids in dirndls with
red circles for cheeks

Mozart’s pieces are like nursery rhymes

Beethoven progresses to literature

before you judge me too harsh on Mozart,
by the way, consider that my favourite
piece of the two in this program is the
Mozart, it’s like comparing apples and
oranges, though, it depends on your
mood that day which you’ll favour



psst: just in case you missed it, this version
of the Pathétique is the best I’ve ever
heard, indeed, of all the pieces here
the most extraordinary, don’t miss it