Beethoven – piano sonata no 4, in E flat major, opus 7

by richibi

though Beethoven’s piano sonata no 4,
in E flat major
, opus 7 has never been
one of my favourites, I’m finding this
particular renderin
g completely

the opus 7 is, of course, early, when
you consider Beethoven reached into
the late 130s for his opuses, his opera,
not counting his, as bountiful, WoOs,
works without opus numbers

the sonata is steeped in Classical
conditions that are becoming ossified
at this point, about a decade after the
French Revolution, 1796 – 7, and that
have yet to be culturally overturned,
put to rest, you can hear it, you hear
the Classical form – formality, repetition,
congenial tonalities still – in the sonata,
brilliantly displayed by a composer
of ripe and rich imagination, but at
the service of structure rather than
the music itself, style over substance,
a student’s musical submission for a
composition exam

you’ll hear the repeat of the opening air
in the first movement more times than
you think is necessary, though the tune
be ever jaunty, never unpleasant, just
essentially trite, the second movement,
is a largo, a largo indeed, you’ll think,
about to fall asleep, even, at the wheel,
the later movements keep you
entertained in most interpretations,
not much, however, inspired, music to
pass the time, to check your watch by,
it needs what Beethoven will later
deliver in spades, miracles and
majesty, conviction

the opus 7 is long as well, nearly
interminable, I think, second only in
length to the sublime however
Hammerklavier, the 106, impudent
therefore, to my mind, if not outright
arrogant, in the mode of lesser artists,
Salieri, Clementi, for instance, who
never manage to transcend their,
however impressive, technical

but in this commanding account
maybe I’ve grown into the piece, or
maybe the performance itself is more
inspired – Joel Schoenhals finds
something that’s had me listen for
hours and hours, rapt, mesmerized



psst: I needed this sonata for a course
I’m taking at Coursera, an Internet
learning site, on the Beethoven
piano sonatas
, the opus 7 is the
first one we’re looking at, this
was the best one I
could find

join me