Some Favourite Sonatas (from Ludwig van)

A Clockwork Orange sparked a Revolution inside me. I discovered Classical. From there (the ninth symphony) I moved onto Mozart’s G Minor (no. 40), then onto Liszt’s B Minor Sonata, and finally ended up at Bach’s Well Tempered. All the pieces were in place.

I’ve been devouring classical CD’s ever since.

One epic cycle not well known to the wider public is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Series. 32 pieces in all, and usually spread over 8 CDs. That’s a lot of solo piano! Probably too much for most people. The average work comes in at 20-25 minutes. Some hard grist.

Out of the 32, I’ve picked out 7 of my favs.

op 2/1 – the first sonata, written at age 25. A sturdy piece, all four movements show strong character.

op 13 (the Pathetique) – classic radio stations play this at least once a day.

op 27/2 (the Moonlight) – everyone’s who’s ever been within 2 metres of a piano has tried playing the Moonlight. It’s irresistable. A knockout first 4 bars. The third movement is manic piano, with broken chords aplenty. Beethoven’s signature piece.

op 31/2 (the Tempest) – draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s play. Wild, temperamental, gusty – it well deserves a wider hearing.

op 57 (the Appassionata) – the greatest and grandest. I think it’s the perfect Sonata. All three movements are meaty and at the same time refined, fiery yet satisfying. The first real piece to test the full register of the new steel-framed instruments, a real banger and clanger. Fun to watch.

op 90 – a totally obscure piece. Enigmatic, and restricted, astringent. A little puzzle, a distilled musical thought. In the tantalizing key of E minor.

op 111 – the final farewell, the last of the sonatas. It closes out the cycle with a two movement counterforce.

Well worth a deeper exploration. Thanks Ludwig!


6 Responses to “Some Favourite Sonatas (from Ludwig van)”

  1. Jon Says:

    Here are some of my favorites:

    Beethoven, Op.27 No.2 (the famous Moonlight Sonata)

    Gershwin’s Preludes (1,2, and 3)

    Rachmaninoff’s Musical Moment No.4

    Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu (Op.66 I think?)

    Monti’s Czardas

    Bazzini’s La Ronde de Lutin (Op.25)

    A good place to see performances of a lot of these pieces is on YouTube.

  2. SilverTiger Says:

    I have never read or watched A Clockwork Orange and from what I have heard of it, probably never will.

    Beethoven, however, is a favourite of mine and his Triple Concerto a favourite favourite.

    I was not brought up to Classical music, in fact very much the opposite. I thus discovered it for myself, like you.


  3. whig Says:

    I am not the greatest of Beethoven fans, but enjoy other music nowadays called classical (though often as not as likely baroque or even romantic). Mainly I am interested in music of the last century, and am very fond of what Prokofiev I have listened to, especially the Lt. Kije Suite, as long as it is performed without singers.

  4. whitishrabbit Says:

    Donno how you feel about the instrument, but I’m really enjoying Bach’s 6 suites for the cello, lately. Good, good stuff.

  5. whig Says:

    Oh, cellos are great. I don’t like operatic-style singing, something about it just feels like fingernails on a blackboard.

  6. newhoosier Says:

    If you are not listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Beethoven’s Last Night, you are cheating yourself out of the experience.

    You’ve undoubtedly heard them before, as most people have heard Wizards of Winter, but you’ve probably heard more than just that song.

    It’s good stuff; I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

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