Piano Sonata No. 27 (Beethoven)

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Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90 was written in the summer of 1814 —Beethoven's late Middle period— and was dedicated to Count Moritz von Lichnowsky.


Unlike a typical sonata, this piece consists of two highly contrasting movements:

  1. Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck (With liveliness and with feeling and expression throughout)
  2. Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen (Not too swiftly and conveyed in a singing manner) (cantabile)

The first movement is written in a 3/4 tempo, sounding mysteriously agitated and restless, described by Beethoven as 'a contest between the head and heart', based on the situation of the Count deciding whether he should marry a young Viennese dancer. It starts out with powerful chords, responded by more subdued material. The falling semitone, particularly the G-F sharp, dominates the first and second subject groups, and most of the episodic work between.[1]

The second movement, a rondo in the tonic major, however, quiets down into a beautiful melody with a 2/4 rhythm. The two contrasting movements suggest an agitated situation calmed by restful contentness. Notably, Beethoven uses German tempo marks for both movements.

English composer Bramwell Tovey characterized the movement as one 'full of passionate and lonely energy'. This contrasting gesticulation of emotion is especially evident in the piece's discernible dialogical form, where the head exposes an idea which is thereafter disputed by the heart.


Performed by Randolph Hokanson

Performed by Randolph Hokanson

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External links[edit]

  1. ^ BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/classical/pizarro/sonata27.shtml